The formation of the building blocks of peptides on interstellar dust grains

N. F.W. Ligterink, J. Terwisscha Van Scheltinga, V. Kofman, V. Taquet, S. Cazaux, J. K. Jørgensen, E. F. Van Dishoeck, H. Linnartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The emergence of life on Earth may have its origin in organic molecules formed in the interstellar medium. Molecules with amide and isocyanate groups resemble structures found in peptides and nucleobases and are necessary for their formation. Their formation is expected to take place in the solid state, on icy dust grains, and is studied here by far-UV irradiating a CH4:HNCO mixture at 20 K in the laboratory. Reaction products are detected by means of infrared spectroscopy and temperature programmed desorption-mass spectrometry. Various simple amides and isocyanates are formed, showing the importance of ice chemistry for their interstellar formation. Constrained by experimental conditions, a reaction network is derived, showing possible formation pathways of these species under interstellar conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-219
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the International Astronomical Union
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventWhite Dwarfs as Probes of Fundamental Physics: Tracers of Planetary, Stellar and Galactic Evolution - Hilo, United States
Duration: 21 Oct 201925 Oct 2019


  • Astrobiology
  • Astrochemistry
  • methods: Laboratory

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