Protostellar and cometary detections of organohalogens
Journal article, 2017

Organohalogens, a class of molecules that contain at least one halogen atom bonded to carbon, are abundant on the Earth where they are mainly produced through industrial and biological processes(1). Consequently, they have been proposed as biomarkers in the search for life on exoplanets(2). Simple halogen hydrides have been detected in interstellar sources and in comets, but the presence and possible incorporation of more complex halogen-containing molecules such as organohalogens into planet-forming regions is uncertain(3,4). Here we report the interstellar detection of two isotopologues of the organohalogen CH3Cl and put some constraints on CH3F in the gas surrounding the low-mass protostar IRAS 16293-2422, using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). We also find CH3Cl in the coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P/C-G) by using the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) instrument. The detections reveal an efficient pre-planetary formation pathway of organohalogens. Cometary impacts may deliver these species to young planets and should thus be included as a potential abiotical production source when interpreting future organohalogen detections in atmospheres of rocky planets.


E. C. Fayolle

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

K. I. Öberg

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

J. K. Jorgensen

University of Copenhagen

Kathrin Altwegg

University of Bern

University of Copenhagen

Hannah Calcutt

University of Copenhagen

Holger S.P. Muller

University of Cologne

M. Rubin

University of Bern

M. H. D. van der Wiel

Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON)

Per Bjerkeli

Galactic Astrophysics

T. L. Bourke

Jodrell Bank Observatory

A. Coutens

University College London (UCL)

E. F. van Dishoeck

Leiden University

Max Planck Society

M. N. Drozdovskaya

University of Bern

R. T. Garrod

University of Virginia

N. F. W. Ligterink

Leiden University

Magnus V. Persson

Galactic Astrophysics

S. F. Wampfler

University of Bern

Hans Balsiger

University of Bern

Jean Jacques Berthelier

Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales (LATMOS)

Johan De-Keyser

Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB)

Björn Fiethe

Technische Universität Braunschweig

Stephen A Fuselier

Southwest Research Institute

Sébastien Gasc

University of Bern

Tamás Gombosi

University of Michigan

Thierry Sémon

University of Bern

Chiayu Tzou

University of Bern

Nature Astronomy

23973366 (eISSN)

Vol. 1 10 703-708

Subject Categories

Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology



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