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Title: Prebiotic hydrocarbon synthesis in impacting reduced astrophysical icy mixtures

We present results of prebiotic organic synthesis in shock-compressed reducing mixtures of simple ices from quantum molecular dynamics simulations extended to close to chemical equilibrium timescales. Given the relative abundance of carbon in reduced forms in astrophysical ices as well as the tendency of these mixtures to form complex hydrocarbons under the presence of external stimuli, it is possible that cometary impacts on a planetary surface could have yielded a larger array of prebiotic organic compounds than previously investigated. We find that the high pressures and temperatures due to shock compression yield a large assortment of carbon- and nitrogen-bonded extended structures that are highly reactive with short molecular lifetimes. Expansion and cooling causes these materials to break apart and form a wide variety of stable, potentially life-building compounds, including long-chain linear and branched hydrocarbons, large heterocyclic compounds, and a variety of different amines and exotic amino acids. Lastly, our results help provide a bottom-up understanding of hydrocarbon impact synthesis on the early Earth and its role in producing life-building molecules from simple starting materials.
Authors:
 [1] ;  [1]
  1. Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
1252616
Report Number(s):
LLNL-JRNL--665284
Journal ID: ISSN 1538-4357
Grant/Contract Number:
AC52-07NA27344
Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 803; Journal Issue: 2; Journal ID: ISSN 1538-4357
Publisher:
Institute of Physics (IOP)
Research Org:
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
71 CLASSICAL AND QUANTUM MECHANICS, GENERAL PHYSICS; 75 CONDENSED MATTER PHYSICS, SUPERCONDUCTIVITY AND SUPERFLUIDITY; 79 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS; 58 GEOSCIENCES; 37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; 75 CONDENSED MATTER PHYSICS, SUPERCONDUCTIVITY AND SUPERFLUIDITY origins of life; prebiotic chemistry; shock compression; comet impact; extreme thermodynamic conditions