PHYS Mark Johnson  Wednesday, March 24, 2010 

281 - Production of pre-biotic molecules from extraterrestrial sources

Nir Goldman,, Evan J. Reed, Laurence E. Fried, I-Feng William Kuo. Physical and Life Sciences Directorate, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA 94550, United States

It has been proposed that impacts of extraterrestrial ices on early Earth could have been partially responsible for the creation of amino acids on the planet. We present ab initio molecular dynamics simulations of shock compressed aqueous mixtures representative of astrochemical ices found on dust grains and within other celestial bodies. We discover that high shock velocities drive the synthesis of a number of transient, exotic C--N bonded species at significantly higher pressures and temperatures than previously studied. Upon quenching to
lower pressure conditions we observe a simple mechanism for the formation of the alpha amino acid glycine, an important component of protein synthesis. We find that shock compression of astrophysical ices followed by rapid expansion is a viable pathway for amino acid formation on a primitive planet, that can be verified by future experimentation.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010 04:50 PM
Recent Advances in Observational and Experimental Astrochemistry (01:30 PM - 05:10 PM)
Location: The Moscone Center
Room: Room 113 North


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