Prebiotic possibilities for the synthesis of interstellar ribose through a protic variant of the formose reaction under gas-phase conditions were studied in the absence of any known catalyst. The ion-molecule reaction products, diose and triose, were sought by mass spectrometry, and relevant masses were observed. Ab initio calculations were used to evaluate protic formose mechanism possibilities. A bilateral theoretical and experimental effort yielded a physical model for glycoaldehyde generation whereby a hydronium cation can mediate formaldehyde dimerization followed by covalent bond formation leading to those and water. These results advance the possibility that ion-molecule reactions between formaldehyde (CH2O) and H3O+ lead to formose reaction products and inform us about potential sugar formation processes in interstellar space.
- Interstellar medium, clouds
- Interstellar medium, molecules
- Laboratory methods
- Molecular processes
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science