Circular Polarization in Star- Formation Regions: Implications for Biomolecular Homochirality

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Science  31 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5377, pp. 672-674
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5377.672

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Strong infrared circular polarization resulting from dust scattering in reflection nebulae in the Orion OMC-1 star-formation region has been observed. Circular polarization at shorter wavelengths might have been important in inducing chiral asymmetry in interstellar organic molecules that could be subsequently delivered to the early Earth by comets, interplanetary dust particles, or meteors. This could account for the excess of l–amino acids found in the Murchison meteorite and could explain the origin of the homochirality of biological molecules.

  • On leave of absence at Joint Astronomy Centre, 660 North A'ohoku Place, Hilo, HI 96720, USA.

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