Exploring the potential formation of organic solids in chondrites and comets through polymerization of interstellar formaldehyde.
KEBUKAWA Y., KILCOYNE A.L.D. and CODY G.D.
Abstract (from CDS):
Polymerization of interstellar formaldehyde, first through the formose reaction and then through subsequent condensation reactions, provides a plausible explanation for how abundant and highly chemically complex organic solids may have come to exist in primitive solar system objects. In order to gain better insight on the reaction, a systematic study of the relationship of synthesis temperature with resultant molecular structure was performed. In addition, the effect of the presence of ammonia on the reaction rate and molecular structure of the product was studied. The synthesized formaldehyde polymer is directly compared to chondritic insoluble organic matter (IOM) isolated from primitive meteorites using solid-state 13C nuclear magnetic resonance, Fourier transform infrared, and X-ray absorption near edge structure spectroscopy. The molecular structure of the formaldehyde polymer is shown to exhibit considerable similarity at the functional group level with primitive chondritic IOM. The addition of ammonia to the solution enhances the rate of polymerization reaction at lower temperatures and results in substantial incorporation of nitrogen into the polymer. Morphologically, the formaldehyde polymer exists as submicron to micron-sized spheroidal particles and spheroidal particle aggregates that bare considerable similarity to the organic nanoglobules commonly observed in chondritic IOM. These spectroscopic and morphological data support the hypothesis that IOM in chondrites and refractory organic carbon in comets may have formed through the polymerization of interstellar formaldehyde after planetesimal accretion, in the presence of liquid water, early in the history of the solar system.
astrochemistry - meteorites, meteors, meteoroids - minor planets, asteroids: general - molecular processes