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Title: Prebiotic Chemistry within a Simple Impacting Icy Mixture

Abstract

In this paper, we present results of prebiotic organic synthesis in shock compressed mixtures of simple ices from quantum molecular dynamics (MD) simulations extended to close to equilibrium time scales. Given the likelihood of an inhospitable prebiotic atmosphere on early Earth, it is possible that impact processes of comets or other icy bodies were a source of prebiotic chemical compounds on the primitive planet. We observe that moderate shock pressures and temperatures within a CO2-rich icy mixture (36 GPa and 2800 K) produce a number of nitrogen containing heterocycles, which dissociate to form functionalized aromatic hydrocarbons upon expansion and cooling to ambient conditions. In contrast, higher shock conditions (48–60 GPa, 3700–4800 K) resulted in the synthesis of long carbon-chain molecules, CH4, and formaldehyde. All shock compression simulations at these conditions have produced significant quantities of simple C–N bonded compounds such as HCN, HNC, and HNCO upon expansion and cooling to ambient conditions. In conclusion, our results elucidate a mechanism for impact synthesis of prebiotic molecules at realistic impact conditions that is independent of external constraints such as the presence of a catalyst, illuminating UV radiation, or pre-existing conditions on a planet.

Authors:
 [1];  [2]
  1. Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States). Physical and Life Sciences Directorate
  2. University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, ON (Canada). Department of Physics
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
OSTI Identifier:
1466173
Report Number(s):
LLNL-JRNL-627072
Journal ID: ISSN 1089-5639; 738013
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC52-07NA27344
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Physical Chemistry. A, Molecules, Spectroscopy, Kinetics, Environment, and General Theory
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 117; Journal Issue: 24; Journal ID: ISSN 1089-5639
Publisher:
American Chemical Society
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL, AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; 79 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS; Origins of life; prebiotic chemistry; shock compression; comet impact

Citation Formats

Goldman, Nir, and Tamblyn, Isaac. Prebiotic Chemistry within a Simple Impacting Icy Mixture. United States: N. p., 2013. Web. doi:10.1021/jp402976n.
Goldman, Nir, & Tamblyn, Isaac. Prebiotic Chemistry within a Simple Impacting Icy Mixture. United States. doi:10.1021/jp402976n.
Goldman, Nir, and Tamblyn, Isaac. Thu . "Prebiotic Chemistry within a Simple Impacting Icy Mixture". United States. doi:10.1021/jp402976n. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1466173.
@article{osti_1466173,
title = {Prebiotic Chemistry within a Simple Impacting Icy Mixture},
author = {Goldman, Nir and Tamblyn, Isaac},
abstractNote = {In this paper, we present results of prebiotic organic synthesis in shock compressed mixtures of simple ices from quantum molecular dynamics (MD) simulations extended to close to equilibrium time scales. Given the likelihood of an inhospitable prebiotic atmosphere on early Earth, it is possible that impact processes of comets or other icy bodies were a source of prebiotic chemical compounds on the primitive planet. We observe that moderate shock pressures and temperatures within a CO2-rich icy mixture (36 GPa and 2800 K) produce a number of nitrogen containing heterocycles, which dissociate to form functionalized aromatic hydrocarbons upon expansion and cooling to ambient conditions. In contrast, higher shock conditions (48–60 GPa, 3700–4800 K) resulted in the synthesis of long carbon-chain molecules, CH4, and formaldehyde. All shock compression simulations at these conditions have produced significant quantities of simple C–N bonded compounds such as HCN, HNC, and HNCO upon expansion and cooling to ambient conditions. In conclusion, our results elucidate a mechanism for impact synthesis of prebiotic molecules at realistic impact conditions that is independent of external constraints such as the presence of a catalyst, illuminating UV radiation, or pre-existing conditions on a planet.},
doi = {10.1021/jp402976n},
journal = {Journal of Physical Chemistry. A, Molecules, Spectroscopy, Kinetics, Environment, and General Theory},
number = 24,
volume = 117,
place = {United States},
year = {2013},
month = {5}
}

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Cited by: 24 works
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