Report

UV Irradiation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Ices: Production of Alcohols, Quinones, and Ethers

Science  19 Feb 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5405, pp. 1135-1138
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5405.1135

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Abstract

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in water ice were exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation under astrophysical conditions, and the products were analyzed by infrared spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. Peripheral carbon atoms were oxidized, producing aromatic alcohols, ketones, and ethers, and reduced, producing partially hydrogenated aromatic hydrocarbons, molecules that account for the interstellar 3.4-micrometer emission feature. These classes of compounds are all present in carbonaceous meteorites. Hydrogen and deuterium atoms exchange readily between the PAHs and the ice, which may explain the deuterium enrichments found in certain meteoritic molecules. This work has important implications for extraterrestrial organics in biogenesis.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: mbernstein{at}mail.arc.nasa.gov

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