Organic Matter in the Universe

  • ID: 2022197
  • Book
  • 277 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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The discovery of the wide presence of organic matter in the Universe came as a surprise to the scientific community. Over the past 30 years, many extraterrestrial organic molecules and solids have been identified by spectroscopic or laboratory means. This book summarizes the observational evidence for organic matter in the Solar System, stars and interstellar space, and distant galaxies. Our current understanding of the origin and distribution of organic matter is also discussed. Special emphasis is put on the commonality and links between organics observed in stars and meteorites, asteroids, comets, and interplanetary dust particles. The possibility that the Earth inherited complex organic compounds produced by stars has raised new questions about how life originated on our planet.

This book is a useful introduction for students and scientists in astronomy, chemistry, biology, geology, physics and space science who wish to gain an overview of this fascinating subject. The inclusion of many up–to–date references provides a solid platform for researchers to enter this field.

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1. History and introduction

2. The chemistry of organic matter

2.1 families of organic molecules

2.2 different forms of carbon

2.3 chains and rings

2.4 molecules of biological significance

3. Techniques of detecting organic molecules in space

3.1 Electronic structure of molecules

3.2 Rotational transitions

3.3 Vibrational transitions

3.4 Electronic transitions

3.5 Nuclear spin and hyperfine lines

3.6 Radical and molecular ions

3.7 Ground–based observations and spectroscopic observations from space

4. Organic molecules in the diffuse interstellar medium

5. Organic compounds in galaxies

6. Synthesis of organic compounds in the late stages of stellar evolution

6.1 nucleosynthesis of carbon

6.2 stellar winds and the late stages of stellar evolution

6.3 synthesis of gas–phase molecules and the condensation of solids

6.4 physical conditions of the stellar wind and chemical pathways of synthesis

6.5 emergence of aliphatic and aromatic compounds and their ejection into the interstellar medium

7. Organic compounds in the Solar System

7.1 meteorites

7.2 interplanetary dust particles

7.3 comets

7.4 asteroids

7.5 planetary satellites

8. Organic compounds as carriers of unsolved astronomical phenomena

8.1 unidentified infrared emission features

8.2 diffuse interstellar bands

8.3 the 217 nm feature

8.4 extended red emission

8.5 the 21 and 30 micron emission features

9. Chemical structures of organic matter in space

9.1 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

9.2 hydrogenated amorphous carbon and carbon nanoparticles

9.3 quenched carbonaceous composites

9.4 kerogen and coal

9.5 tholin and HCN polymers

10. Laboratory simulations of molecular synthesis

10.1 Miller–Urey experiment

10.2 Ultraviolet photolysis of ices

11. Delivery of organic compounds in the early history of the Earth

11.1 isotopic signatures and the existence of presolar grains

11.2 crater records and the heavy bombardment phase in the early history of the Earth

12. Origin of life on Earth

12.1 endogenous and exogenous theories of origin of life

12.2 organic compounds and the first emergence of life

13. Outlook for the future

13.1 future astronomical facilities

13.2 future Solar System exploration missions

14. References

15. Glossary

16. Subject index

17. Object index
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An excellent monograph by a well–qualified authority.  Summing Up: Highly recommended.  Upper–division undergraduates, graduate students, and researchers/faculty.   (Choice, 1 July 2012)

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