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The mechanism of formation of complex organic matter in space is revealed

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MOSCOW, March 29. / TASS /. Russian and American physicists have discovered a mechanism that allows complex unlimited aromatic hydrocarbons to form in the almost complete absence of light and heat in the void of interstellar space. This testifies in favor of the hypothesis of the formation of “bricks of life” in space, the press service of the Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (FIAN) said on Tuesday.

“One hundred years ago, we considered space to be lifeless space and thought that it contained only atoms and simple molecules. “Now we know that there are many complex organic compounds in the universe, the first” bricks of life “that can start the development of life where there are suitable conditions for it,” said Deputy Head of the FIAN Center for Laboratory Astrophysics Valery Azyazov. -service of the institute.

Until recently, astronomers speculated that organic compounds were extremely rare in the Galaxy and in the universe as a whole. When scientists first studied the “embryos” of stars and interstellar gas clouds in detail, they found that this was not the case. It turned out that they contain huge amounts of simple hydrocarbons, alcohols, sugars and amino acids. Their traces were later found even in galaxies very far from us.

Azyazov and his colleagues were interested in how complex organic compounds from the class of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons arise in the void of space. Their molecules were found in the matter of the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet, as well as in many cold gas clouds, which made scientists wonder how these substances synthesized on Earth at high temperatures could be formed.

Formation of “bricks of life”

Physicists focused their efforts on anthracene molecules consisting of 14 carbon atoms and ten hydrogen atoms united in three interconnected rings. Scientists believe that anthracene is formed in space in large quantities by the fusion of two molecules of benzyl radicals consisting of seven carbon and hydrogen atoms, but the exact mechanisms of their conversion to anthracene have not yet been known to scientists.

Russian and foreign physicists have calculated in detail the behavior of these substances at the quantum level and conducted a series of experiments with these substances. This allowed them to identify a complex chain of reactions involving two molecules of benzyl radical, which leads to the appearance of anthracene even at low ambient temperatures and with minimal exposure to the molecules involved in the reaction.

Such reactions, as noted by Azyazov and his colleagues, were not previously predicted or studied by their fellow chemists, as scientists did not believe that the benzyl radical could interact, leading to the reorganization of virtually its entire molecule. Experiments and calculations of Russian and foreign researchers have shown that such reactions occur in practice, which explains the existence of large amounts of anthracene in space.

The same reactions, scientists suggest, can be used on Earth to simplify and reduce the cost of producing various organic chemicals based on aromatic hydrocarbons, widely used in the production of dyes, plastics and other important consumables.

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