Searches for interstellar molecules of potential prebiotic importance

Yi Jehng Kuan*, Steven B. Charnley, Hui Chun Huang, Zbigniew Kisiel, Pascale Ehrenfreund, Wei Ling Tseng, Chi Hung Yan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Interstellar chemistry leads to the formation of many prebiologically important molecules and is therefore of the fundamental interest to Astrobiology. Many organics can be produced in the gas phase where they can be detected. Molecules formed by reactions on the surfaces of dust grains are also best detected by millimeter-wave observations of sources in which the products of grain-surface chemistry have been deposited into the gas phase. In this article, we present a summary of the status of several searches for potential prebiotic molecules - aziridine, 2H-azirine, pyrimidine and glycine - in the hot molecular cores Sgr B2(N-LMH), W51 e1/e2 and Orion KL. Detections of these organic molecules would strengthen the thesis that interstellar organic matter, delivered in cometary impacts, could have played an important role in the prebiotic chemistry of the early Earth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-39
Number of pages9
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Astrobiology
  • ISM: Abundances
  • ISM: Individual (Orion Kleinmann-Low, Sagittarius B2(N-LMH), W51 e1/e2)
  • ISM: Molecules
  • Line: Identification
  • Radio Lines: ISM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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