Nature’s Starships. I. Observed Abundances and Relative Frequencies of Amino Acids in Meteorites

Cobb AK and Pudritz RE (2014)

The Astrophysical Journal 783:140.
ApJ 783 140. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/783/2/140


We see a predominance in the abundance and variety of amino acids in CM2 and CR2 meteorites. The range in temperature corresponding to these subclasses indicates high degrees of aqueous alteration, suggesting aqueous synthesis of amino acids. Within the CM2 and CR2 subclasses, we identify trends in relative frequencies of amino acids to investigate how common amino acids are as a function of their chemical complexity. These two trends (total abundance and relative frequencies) can be used to constrain formation parameters of amino acids within planetesimals. Our organization of the data supports an onion shell model for the temperature structure of planetesimals. The least altered meteorites (type?3) and their amino acids originated near cooler surface regions. The most active amino acid synthesis likely took place at intermediate depths (type 2). The most altered materials (type?1) originated furthest toward parent body cores. This region is likely too hot to either favor amino acid synthesis or for amino acids to be retained after synthesis.