ESO Science Release | ALMA | Rosetta | 2017 Oct 02
Dashing Hopes that Molecule May be Marker of Life
Using data captured by ALMA in Chile and from the ROSINA instrument on ESA’s Rosetta mission, a team of astronomers has found faint traces of the chemical compound Freon-40 (CH3Cl), also known as methyl chloride and chloromethane, around both the infant star system IRAS 16293-2422 , about 400 light-years away, and the famous comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P/C-G) in our own Solar System. The new ALMA observation is the first detection ever of a stable organohalogen in interstellar space .
Organohalogens consist of halogens, such as chlorine and fluorine, bonded with carbon and sometimes other elements. On Earth, these compounds are created by some biological processes — in organisms ranging from humans to fungi — as well as by industrial processes such as the production of dyes and medical drugs .
This new discovery of one of these compounds, Freon-40, in places that must predate the origin of life, can be seen as a disappointment, as earlier research had suggested that these molecules could indicate the presence of life. ...
Astronomers Discover Traces of Methyl Chloride around Infant Stars and Nearby Comet
National Radio Astronomy Observatory | ALMA | 2017 Oct 02
ALMA and Rosetta Detect Organohalogens in Two Distant Places in Space
ALMA Observatory (ESO/NRAO/NAOJ) | 2017 Oct 02
Protostellar and Cometary Detections of Organohalogens - Edith C. Fayolle et al