It has been confirmed that molecules could exist in the interstellar conditions. More than 200 molecules have been identified in the interstellar medium, with the development of radio astronomy in recent decades. It includes the large molecules like methanol, ethanol and urea. The Taurus molecular cloud-1 (TMC-1) has proven to be a typical astronomical source with more than 100 molecules detected in it.
Dr. Chen Longfei from the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) built a physicochemical astronomical model under the TMC-1 condition, to study how the formation and conversion processes of the interstellar molecules happened. The study was published in The Astrophysical Journal.
Scientists examined the formation, destruction and conversion processes among these different groups of molecules, by classifying four different groups of molecules by their chemical characteristics. These processes are important clues for the understanding of the synthesis and origin of interstellar molecules.
Further comparison between the detected molecular abundances and the theoretical model predictions indicated that current astrochemical model could reproduce the abundances of 71% of the molecules. The improvements for the over- and under-predicted molecules were proposed.
The results also indicated that the percentage of interstellar ice mantle mixture was affected by the local extinction. It was important for the understanding of the interstellar ice chemistry. Researchers from the Xinjiang Astronomical Observatory of CAS and Shandong University of Technology were also involved in the study.