Formation and delivery of complex organic molecules to the Solar System and early EarthOPEN ACCESS 

Sun Kwok

to be published as Chapter 4.2 in Handbook of Astrobiology, Vera Kolb (ed.), CRC Press, p. 165


“The late stages of stellar evolution from asymptotic giant branch stars to planetary nebulae are now known to be an active phase of molecular synthesis. Over 80 gas-phase molecules have been detected through rotational transitions in the mm/submm region. Infrared spectroscopy has also detected inorganic minerals, fullerenes, and organic solids. The synthesis of these molecules and solids take place over very low density (<106 cm−3) and short (∼103 yr) time scales. The complex organics are observed to have mixed aromatic/aliphatic structures and may be related to the complex organics found in meteorites, comets, interplanetary dust particles, and planetary satellites. The possible links between stellar and solar system organics is discussed. “