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Lab produces building blocks to DNA and RNA in deep space conditions

Date: 19.12.2022 

The synthetic production of a critical building block called methanediamine for the first time, by researchers in University of Hawaii at Manoa's Department of Chemistry, could lead to key insights into the origins of life. The researchers have discovered a method to produce it in a lab under conditions that mimic icy interstellar nanoparticles in cold molecular clouds in space.

Kredit: University of Hawai?i.Most nitrogen-containing molecules in deep space carry exclusively the nitrile moiety (organic compound that has a carbon, nitrogen functional group), while amines (a member of a family of nitrogen-containing organic compounds that is derived from ammonia) and imines (compounds containing a carbon-nitrogen double bond) are relatively rare.

According to experts, an understanding of the origin of these less common molecule parts in deep space is central to the hypothesis for the origin of life because all nucleobases (nitrogen-containing compounds) found in contemporary RNA and DNA contain amines and imines.

The team used low-temperature interstellar analog ices composed of ammonia and methylamine, and exposed them to energetic electrons which act as proxies for galactic cosmic rays. These conditions simulate the environment within cold molecular clouds. The researchers were able to identify methanediamine subliming from the ice.

"The discovery of this unusual molecule in such an extreme environment shows us that molecular clouds are home to new types of chemistries not previously considered," Joshua H. Marks said.

Zdroj obrázku: University of Hawaii.





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