In organic chemistry, a heterocycle is any ring molecule containing one or more atoms other than carbon. Adenine (mentioned in a previous post) is quite a good example of a heterocycle.

A lot of these have been searched for in interstellar space, including furan, pyrrole and imidazole. Furan is particularly popular as a target by astrobiologists, due to it’s structural similarity to ribose and deoxyribose (better known as the backbone for DNA molecules). Unfortunately, no concrete evidence has been found for any of them. This is strange, because three chemicals found commonly in interstellar space (acetylene, hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide) all contain an isoelectronic triple bond. Theoretically, they should react in very similar ways such that if PAHs are common in the universe, heterocyclic aromatic compounds should also be. Seemingly, unless we’re all missing something, they aren’t.

Although it’s probably a painfully obvious answer (such as a matter of enthalpy or reaction kinetics), I can’t help but wonder why…

About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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