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Interstellar Chemistry Recorded in Organic Matter from Primitive Meteorites

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Science  05 May 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5774, pp. 727-730
DOI: 10.1126/science.1123878

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Abstract

Organic matter in extraterrestrial materials has isotopic anomalies in hydrogen and nitrogen that suggest an origin in the presolar molecular cloud or perhaps in the protoplanetary disk. Interplanetary dust particles are generally regarded as the most primitive solar system matter available, in part because until recently they exhibited the most extreme isotope anomalies. However, we show that hydrogen and nitrogen isotopic compositions in carbonaceous chondrite organic matter reach and even exceed those found in interplanetary dust particles. Hence, both meteorites (originating from the asteroid belt) and interplanetary dust particles (possibly from comets) preserve primitive organics that were a component of the original building blocks of the solar system.

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