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Origins 2011 – Abstracts

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P1: Posters – Origins: From Stars to Life
Time: Monday, 04/Jul/2011: 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Location: Hall Antigone


Experimental evidence for an astrophysical scenario at the origin of biomolecular asymmetry

Pierre de Marcellus1, Cornelia Meinert2, Michel Nuevo1,3, Jean-Jacques Filippi2, Grégoire Danger1,4, Laurent Nahon5, Louis Le Sergeant d'Hendecourt1,6, Uwe J Meierhenrich2

1Univ Paris-Sud, “Astrochimie et Origines”, Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, UMR 8617, F-91405 Orsay, France; 2Laboratoire de Chimie des Molécules Bioactives et des Arômes, UMR 6001, Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis, F-06108 Nice, France; 3NASA Ames Research Center, Space Science Division, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA; 4Laboratoire de Physique des Interactions Ioniques et Moléculaires, UMR 6633, Université de Provence, F-13393 Marseille, France; 5Synchrotron SOLEIL, F-91192 Gif-sur-Yvette, France; 6CNRS, F-91405 Orsay, France

In a plausible and experimentally simulated astrophysical scenario, ultraviolet circularly polarized light has induced enantiomeric excesses of up to 1.34% for (13C)-alanine, from initially achiral inter/circumstellar ice analogs. This result, comparable with some L excesses measured in meteorites, supports a scenario in which exogenous delivery of organics displaying a slight L excess, produced by an asymmetric astrophysical process, is at the origin of biomolecular asymmetry on Earth.


Complex organic residue analysis with very high resolution mass spectroscopy: a new analytical approach for the understanding of the organic matter evolution in astrophysical environments.

Grégoire Danger1, Fabrice Duvernay1, Patrice Theulé1, Fabien Borget1, Thierry Chiavassa1, Pierre de Marcellus2, Louis d'Hendecourt2, Sarah Horst4, Véronique Vuitton3, Roland Thissen3

1Laboratoire de Physique des Interactions Ionique et Moléculaire, France; 2Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale, Université Paris Sud, France; 3Institut de Planétologie et d'Astrophysique de Grenoble, France; 4Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, The University of Arizona, USA

We use Very High Resolution Mass Spectrometry for analyses of the soluble fraction of yellow stuff produced in laboratory. Their analyses show that they are composed of molecules with high molecular weight (m/z>2000). Fragmentations suggest that grafted molecules constitute a part of them. Hexamethylenetetramine derivatives have also been detected. First results and further analytical developments will be presented to facilitate the understanding of the residue composition and of its chemical evolution.


New insight on HMT formation in interstellar ice analogs

Fabrice Duvernay, Vassilissa Vinogradoff, Patrice Theulé, Gregoire Danger, Thierry Chiavassa

Université de Provence, France

The suspected pathway of HMT formation has been established on the basis of its synthesis in aqueous solution. It appears from previous studies that H2CO coming from CH3OH photolysis reacts with ammonia to give after several steps HMT. We show that this reaction needs to be catalyzed by an acid in order to be realized in interstellar ice analogs at low temperature.We report for the first time on the thermal synthesis of HMT from H2CO:NH3 ice mixtures containing HCOOH.


Distinct Purine Distribution in Carbonaceous Chondrites

Michael P. Callahan1,2, Karen E. Smith2,3, Henderson J. Cleaves2,4, Josef Ruzicka5, Jennifer C. Stern1,2, Daniel P. Glavin1,2, Christopher H. House2,3, Jason P. Dworkin1,2

1NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, United States of America; 2NASA Astrobiology Institute; 3The Pennsylvania State University, United States of America; 4The Carnegie Institution of Washington, United States of America; 5Thermo Fisher Scientific, United States of America

We will present results of a targeted search for the five canonical RNA and DNA nucleobases as well as 14 non-canonical pyrimidines and purines, which have been observed under plausible prebiotic reactions, in extracts of 11 different carbonaceous chondrites covering various petrographic types (CI, CM, and CR) and degrees of aqueous alteration (1, 2, and 3) and one ureilite. Analysis was via liquid chromatography and triple-stage mass spectrometry or orbitrap mass spectrometry.


Searching for Prebiotically Important Molecules in Protoplanetary Disks

Erika Gibb, Matthew Troutman

University of Missouri - St. Louis, United States of America

We use high-resolution, near-infrared spectroscopy to search for simple organic molecules and water in protoplanetary disks around young stars. We present data acquired using the NIRSPEC instrument on the Keck II telescope located on Mauna Kea, HI. We report detections of HCN and C2H2 in absorption toward GV Tau N and water emission in two protoplanetary disks. We also report a search for a spectro-astrometric signal and implications for where water is located in those systems.


Formation, alteration and delivery of complex amino acid precursors of interstellar origin with high molecular weight – Experimental verification on ground and in space

Kensei Kobayashi1, Palash Kumar Sarker1, Keisuke Ono1, Yukinori Kawamoto1, Yumiko Obayashi1, Takeo Kaneko1, Hajime Mita2, Hikaru Yabuta3, Jun-ichi Takahashi4, Satoshi Yoshida5, Kazuhiro Kanda6, Akihiko Yamagishi7

1Yokohama National University, Japan; 2Fukuoka Institute of Technology, Japan; 3Osaka University, Japan; 4NTT Microsystem Integration Laboratories, Japan; 5National Institute of Radiological Sciences, Japan; 6University of Hyogo, Japan; 7Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Science, Japan

Our laboratory simulations suggested that complex amino acid precursors could be formed in interstellar environments. Such complex organics could be introduced to the Solar system, and be altered in solar system bodies. We performed simulation experiments how organics are altered there by using accelerators. We are also planning the Tanpopo Mission by utilizing the International Space Station: Capture of space dusts and direct exposure of organic compounds to space environments would be done.


Interstellar Glycine Formation Occurring at Surfaces of Ice Water Dust Grain Particles under Ionizing Effects. A Computational Study

Albert Rimola1, Piero Ugliengo2, Mariona Sodupe1

1Departament de Química, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona; 2Dipartimento Chimica IFM, Università di Torino

Interstellar glycine formation on surfaces of ice water mantles exposed to ionizing radiation has been studied through computational tools. First, structure of different (H2O)n clusters (n=2, 3, 4, 6 and 8) in their radical cation forms are analyzed, results indicating that ionizing radiation induce the formation of surface OH radicals. Glycine formation on the (H2O)8 radical cation has then been studied starting from the surface OH radical, showing very favorable energetics.


Conditions for Origin of Life in Circumstellar Disk

Valeriy Snytnikov

Boreskov Institute of Catalysis, Russian Federation

The astrocatalysis hypothesis indicates the pre-planetary circumstellar disk as most probable time and place of the primary abiogenic synthesis of prebiotic organic substances from simple molecules along with the “RNA world” and the life origin. Results of computational experiments using supercomputers are used to determine conditions of abiogenic organic compounds. The reactor synthesising chemical compounds existed for about ten years.


Isocyanides: from the Interstellar Medium to the Prebiotic Chemistry

Jean-Claude Guillemin1, Abdellatif Matrane1,2, Abdessamad Benidar3, Didier Begue4, Claude Pouchan4

1UMR CNRS 6226 'Sciences Chimiques de Rennes', France; 2UMR CNRS 6226 'Sciences Chimiques de Rennes', France, Laboratoire de Chimie Bio-Organique et Macromoléculaire, Faculté des Sciences et Techniques Marrakech, Morocco; 3Institut de Physique de Rennes, Equipe Astrochimie Expérimentale UMR 6251 CNRS Université de Rennes 1; 4Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour, UMR 5254, Institut Pluridisciplinaire sur l’Environnement et les Matériaux (IPREM), Technopole Hélioparc

Some isocyanides (HNC, CH3NC, HCCNC) have been detected in the Interstellar Medium (ISM). The synthesis and the recording of the gas phase infrared and microwave spectra of isocyanides, isomers of detected nitriles, are under progress and will be followed by attempts to detect them in the ISM, in comaes or in planetary atmospheres. Their chemistry and photochemistry are studied to precise the scope and limitations of isocyanides on the Prebiotic Earth.


Shock chemistry of amino acids: implication for extraterrestrial delivery of prebiotic materials

Haruna Sugahara, Koichi Mimura

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Japan

Behaviour of amino acids at impact shock is studied to examine extraterrestrial delivery of bimolecules to the early Earth. Here we conducted a series of shock recovery experiments targeting mixtures of individual amino acid and olivine. We used glycine, alanine and β-alanine as starting amino acids. Peak shock pressures achieved in the experiments were ranging from 0 to 40 GPa. Based on our experimental data, we discuss possible scenarios of amino acid delivery by comet and asteroids.


Minimum Energy Principle and aminoacids in meteorites

Yves Ellinger1, Marie Lattelais1, Françoise Pauzat1, Brigitte Zanda2

1Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Laboratoire de Chimie Théorique (LCT), Paris, France; 2Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Laboratoire de Minéralogie et Cosmochimie (LMCM), Paris, France

In this report, we address the issue of why the relative abundance of aminoacids of the same family is so different from one type of chondrite to the other. We have computed the stability of all isomers of the aminoacid families with 2, 3 and 4 carbon atoms in their neutral and ionic, forms. Strong correlations have been found between the relative abundances deduced from the analysis of the carbonaceous material and the type of chondrite for protonated and zwitterionic aminoacid isomers.


Prebiotic molecules in the interstellar medium, glycine precursor and its potential formation.

Fabien Borget, Jean-Baptiste Bossa, Grégoire Danger, Fabrice Duvernay, Patrice Theulé, Thierry Chiavassa

Université de Provence, France

Recently, we investigated an original way to form a glycine salt in interstellar conditions from a carbamate. In this conference, we will present this glycine salt formation and we will investigate how the aminoacetonitrile, a Strecker precursor of glycine, can be formed into interstellar ices determining its limit of detection. This icy grain evolution goes on by incorporation in asteroids and comets delivering these organics on planets in formation


Small scale chemical heterogeneity in Orion: towards different flavours of planets ?

Didier Despois1, Cécile Favre2, Nathalie Brouillet1, Alain Baudry1, Tzu-Cheng Peng1, Françoise Combes3, Michel Guélin4, Henry A. Wootten5, Georges Wlodarczak6

1Observatoire de Bordeaux OASU/LAB, France; 2Department of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus, Danemark; 3LERMA, Observatoire de Paris, France; 4IRAM, St Martin d'Hères, France; 5NRAO, Charlottesville, USA; 6PhLAM, U. de Lille 1,Villeneuve d'Ascq, France

The star-forming region Orion-KL, close to Trapezium, contains HCN, NH3, H2CO, but also formamide NH2CHO, methyl formate HCOOCH3 or acetone CH3COCH3. We present 2" (1000 AU) resolution maps of several molecules. Methyl formate correlates with shocks, pointing to a probable origin in icy grain mantles. Molecules differ in spatial distribution : this may lead on terrestrial planets in formation to different stocks of "prebiotic" molecules and different initial conditions for life emergence.


Preferential uptake of ribose by primitive cells might explain why RNA was favored over its analogs

Chenyu Wei, Andrew Pohorille

NASA Ames Research Center, United States of America

Permeation of membranes to ribose, nucleosides and their diastereomers is investigated using computer simulations. It is found that ribose permeates membranes 10-fold faster than its diastereomers but the same effect is not present for nucleosides. Molecular origin of this effect is identified. Our results indicate that preferential uptake of ribose, but not its nucleosides or nucleotides, by protocells might have provided a mechanism for its selective incorporation into information polymers.


Chemistry and Astrochemistry of Simple Sugars: Implications for Asteroid, Meteorite, or Comet Delivery

Nicolle Zellner1, Vanessa McCaffrey2, Erica Bennett2, Murthy Gudipati3

1Department of Physics, Albion College, United States of America; 2Department of Chemistry, Albion College, United States of America; 3Jet Propulsion Laboratory, United States of America

Detections of biologically-relevant compounds in molecular clouds have shown that they can form easily in space, with delivery to Earth or other planets by comets, meteorites, asteroids, or interplanetary dust particles. This presentation will describe impact experiments, wherein simple sugars, which have been found in meteorites and in the interstellar medium, were subjected to projectiles traveling at ~5.5 km/sec. We will also present the analyses of the resulting products.


From Stars to Life: What does astrobiology tell us about the origin of life?

Urszula Katarzyna Czyzewska

John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Lublin, Poland

In the subject literature, astrobiology is defined as a science which studies the emergence and evolution of life in the Universe - on Earth and beyond. In this paper, the author would like to point out the most significant issues related to life phenomenon in the Universe seen from an astrobiological perspective: (1) Scientific considerations and outcomes; (2) Definition of life; (3) Theory of life’s origin; (4) Implications and challenges; (5) Future perspectives.


Energy transduction inside vesicles by mineral particles: formation of NADH

David Summers1, Juan Noveron2, David Rodoni3, Ranor Basa3

1Carl Sagan Center - SETI Institute, United States of America; 2University of Texas at El Paso; 3Foothill College

We show thatTiO2 particles can be encapsulate inside vesicles and retain their photocatalytic activity through the dehydration/rehydration cycles that concentrate species inside a vesicle. It is shown that these can be used to produce biochemical species, such as enzymatically active NADH, in such structures. This system demonstrates a simple energy source inside vesicles/protocells suitable either for simple prebiotic systems and/or for more complex “protobiochemical”/protocellular systems.


Is Water Necessary for Life?

Andrew Pohorille1, Lawrence Pratt2

1NASA Ames Research Center, United States of America; 2Tulane University, United States of America

Is water necessary for life is a key question in defining habitable zones and guiding search for life in the solar system and beyond. Solvent for life has to promote not only chemical reactions but also self-organization of organics into living structures. In water, but not in most other liquids, this is possible because hydrophobic effect and high dielectric constant provide a balance between different non-covalent interactions that can be readily changed in response to environmental signals.


A hypothesis for the origin of life in which almost everything can go wrong

Helen Greenwood Hansma

University of California, Santa Barbara, California, United States of America

Error tolerance is a major requirement for the origin of life, because almost everything is likely to go wrong. Error tolerance is extremely high in the Mica Hypothesis for the origin of life (H. G. Hansma, J. Theor. Biol. 266 (2010) 175-188), in which life originated in the spaces between mica sheets, which functioned as the earliest cells. Entropy is greatly reduced in the confinement provided by mica sheets.


Asymmetric Reactions of Amino-Acid Precursor Molecules by Circularly Polarized Light from Free Electron Laser

Jun-Ichi Takahashi1, Palash Kumar Sarker2, Takeo Kaneko2, Kensei Kobayashi2, Hikaru Yabuta3, Hajime Mita4, Masahiro Adachi5, Heishun Zen5, Masato Hosaka6, Masahiro Katoh5

1NTT; 2Yokohama Natl. Univ.; 3Osaka Univ.; 4Fukuoka Inst. of Technol.; 5UVSOR; 6Nagoya Univ.

One of the most attractive hypotheses for the origin of homochirality in terrestrial bio-organic molecules is “Cosmic Scenario”; a chiral impulse in space triggered asymmetric reactions on the surfaces of space materials. We irradiated hydantoins, the precursor molecules of amino acids, with circularly polarized light from free electron laser. The experimental results suggest that circularly polarized light plays an important role to produce homochirality of terrestrial bio-organic molecules.


VUV absorption cross section of benzene, relevance for Titan’s atmosphere

Fernando Javier Capalbo1, Yves Bénilan1, Nicolas Fray1, Martin Schwell1, Et-Touhami Essebbar1, Norbert Champion2, Tommi Koskinen3, Roger Yelle3

1Laboratoire Interuniversitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques, Paris-Est Créteil and Paris Diderot universities, Créteil, France; 2Laboratoire d'Etude du Rayonnement et de la Matière en Astrophysique, Observatoire de Paris, Meudon, France; 3Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA

Absorption cross section spectra of C6H6 were measured at different temperatures and resolutions using synchrotron radiation. The data were incorporated in the LISA GPCOS Titan spectroscopic database of molecules of astrophysical interest. These data were be combined with Cassini/UVIS star occultation measurements to study Titan’s atmosphere. Density profiles for C6H6 and other carbonaceous compounds were derived. This will improve the comprehension of Titan’s atmospheric organic chemistry.


What do the elemental abundances tell us about the universality of life?

Aditya Chopra, Charles H. Lineweaver

The Australian National University, Australia

We use the most recent and complete data sets for the elemental compositions of the Sun, the Earth, the oceans and life, to examine stellar, planetary and biological processes that led to the origin and evolution life on Earth. Our scheme for the emergence of life from non-life involves a series of elemental fractionations that are likely to be universal and suggests a number of deterministic processes that impart features common to all life.


Astrobiology: Past, Present, and Future

David Dunér, Dag Ahrén, Dainis Dravins, Sofia Feltzing, Bruce Fouke, Gustav Holmberg, Erik Persson, Petter Persson, Vivi Vajda

The Pufendorf Institute, Lund University, Sweden

During 2010/11, a program in “Astrobiology: Past, Present, and Future” is carried out. This comprises not only the common astrobiological themes at the intersection of astronomy, biology, and the geosciences, but also various more historical and philosophical aspects. The program aims to strengthening and further developing multidisciplinary astrobiology-related research at Lund University.


Elemental insights into the site of the origin and early evolution of life on Earth.

Aditya Chopra, Charles H. Lineweaver

The Australian National University, Australia

The stoichiometry of life, i.e. its elemental composition, may be one of the most conserved features of life. Examining the stoichiometry of life and its environment with reference to phylogenetic trees could reveal new insights into the links between changing paleo-ecologies and early evolution of life on Earth. Our approach can also help to identify modern analogues of geological sites such as hydrothermal vents where life may have first evolved from its pre-biotic origins.


Occurrence of the 2:1 commensurability in a gas giant – Super-Earth system

Ewa Szuszkiewicz, Edyta Podlewska-Gaca

Insitute of Physics and CASA*, University of Szczecin, Poland

We investigate how the conditions occurring in a protoplanetary disc may determine the final structure of a planetary system emerging from such a disc. We find that for a system containing a gas giant on the external orbit and a Super-Earth on the internal one, both embedded in a gaseous disc, the 2:1 resonance is a very likely configuration, so one can expect it as an outcome of the early phases of the planetary system formation.


Dynamic combinatorial chemistry: determination of binding affinities with DCLFit and library distributions from LC-ELSD measurments

Piotr Nowak1, Friederike M. Mansfeld2, Sijbren Otto1

1Centre for Systems Chemistry, Stratingh Institute, University of Groningen, The Netherlands; 2Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, UK

Determining binding affinities of species present in complex systems of interacting molecules relies on troublesome isolation and titration measurements of compounds of interest. We demonstrate an easy procedure for obtaining accurate distribution data of a dynamic library using LC-ELSD and compare fitted binding constants with results from NMR and ITC measurements. This approach may become a handy tool for better understanding processes such as those studied in the field of systems chemistry.


Chiroptical Properties of Organic Molecules Induced by Polarized Quantum Beam Irradiation

Jun-Ichi Takahashi


One of the most attractive scenarios for the origin of homochirality in terrestrial bio-organic molecules is “Cosmic Scenario”; polarized quantum beams in space triggered asymmetric reactions on the surfaces of space materials. We irradiated amino acids with circularly polarized light or spin polarized electron beam. The experimental results suggest that the polarized quantum beams play important roles to the emergence of homochirality in terrestrial bio-organic molecules.


Survivability of Deinococcus radiodurans to laboratory-simulated solar wind charged particles

Ivan Gláucio Paulino-Lima1, Eduardo Janot-Pacheco2, Douglas Galante2, Charles Cockell3, Karen Olsson-Francis3, John Robert Brucato4, Giuseppe Baratta5, Giovanni Strazzulla5, Tony Merrigan6, Robert McCullough6, Nigel Mason7, Claudia de Alencar Santos Lage1

1Instituto de Biofísica Carlos Chagas Filho, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil; 2Instituto de Astronomia, Geofisica e Ciencias Atmosféricas, Universidade de São Paulo, Brasil; 3Planetary and Space Science Research Institute, Open University, United Kingdom; 4INAF / Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Italia; 5INAF / Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania, Italia; 6Centre for Plasma Physics, School of Mathematics and Physics, Queens University Belfast, United Kingdom; 7Department of Physics and Astronomy, Open University, United Kingdom

Cells of Deinococcus radiodurans were irradiated with charged particles under conditions similar to those found at the interplanetary space. Whilst low energy particle radiation (2 keV to 4 keV) has little or no effect on dehydrated cells, higher energy ions (200 keV) would inactivate the cells when a high flux is used (>10^10 ions∙cm-2). Our data suggests that part of the cells could survive the particle radiation doses encountered during an interplanetary transfer within our own Solar System.


Organic residues from UV photochemistry of ices as a template for further prebiotic processes

Paola Modica1, Pierre de Marcellus1, Donia Baklouti1, Rosario Brunetto1,2, Manale Noun3, Serge Della Negra2,3, Louis Le Sergeant d'Hendecourt1,2


Interstellar ices are observed in the infrared spectra of regions where stars and planetary systems form. Photo- and thermo-chemistry of these ices is simulated and studied in the laboratory by infrared spectroscopy. The resulting production of complex organic residues is performed. These complex organic residues have chemical properties that make them good potential candidates for prebiotic chemistry. We present the experimental set-up and discuss some results.


Observing Planet Formation in Nearby Transition Disks

Lucas Cieza

University of Hawaii, United States of America

We describe a long-term ongoing project aiming to obtain direct detections of young planets still embedded within their primordial disks and constrain the conditions in which they form. This program has several components: 1) a disk characterization survey to identify the most likely sites of ongoing giant planet formation, 2) aperture masking observations to attempt the direct detection of forming planets, and 3) follow-up submillimeter imaging with ALMA to study disks in great detail.