AstroFIt 2 – COFUND fellow since May 1, 2017.
Project ended on March 31, 2019.
INAF Research Centre: Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania
Email: gfedo at oact.inaf.it
- Solid-state formation of complex molecules under dense cloud conditions
- Laboratory simulations of cosmic-ray processing of N2 -containing ices at dark cloud conditions
- Formation of Glycerol through Hydrogenation of CO Ice under Prestellar Core Conditions (The Astrophysical Journal, 10/06/2017)
- Cosmic ray processing of N2-containing interstellar ice analogues at dark cloud conditions (MNRAS, 22/12/2017)
- Formation of interstellar methanol ice prior to the heavy CO freeze-out stage (Astronomy & Astrophysics, 17/01/2018)
- Reactive Desorption of CO Hydrogenation Products under Cold Pre-stellar Core Conditions (The Astrophysical Journal, 01/02/2018)
Project title: FaNFaReS – Fats and Nucleobases Formation Routes in Space
Almost 200 years have passed since Friedrich Wöhler made the first attempt to break the edge between inorganic chemistry and the chemistry of molecules associated with life by synthesizing urea – a species that before could only be obtained from living organisms. Today, it is still an open question where and when the first building blocks of life formed. Recent progress in the fields of observational and laboratory astrochemistry, provides a strong hints for their interstellar origin. It is generally accepted that the gravitational collapse of interstellar clouds comprising of gas and dust through dark clouds results in the formation of protostars with protoplanetary disks. Along with these processes, dust particles provide a surface on which gas species can accrete and react forming a layer of ice on top of the dust grains.
Irradiation of these icy dust grains with cosmic rays (ions, electrons etc.) and energetic UV/X-ray photons, in turn, induces exotic low temperature (10-20 K) chemistry that has proven in the laboratory its potential to form complex organic molecules (COMs).
This proposal is about a systematic laboratory study simulating the processes at play in the star forming regions, where icy grain energetic processing is mainly driven by the cosmic ray irradiation. Specialized high vacuum setup will be used capable of studying cosmic-ray induced reactions occurring in the ice mantle and with the surface of carbonaceous dust grains. The proposal aims to study, under fully controlled conditions, the solid-state formation of COMs that are the direct precursors for two important classes of prebiotic compounds – fatty acids and nucleobases – and is at the edge of two disciplines; on one side as far as we can go with solid state astrochemistry and on the other side as elementary as needed in primordial Earth biochemistry. The laboratory findings will be used to interpret and guide astronomical observations and as input for astrochemical models.
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