Questions tagged [astrochemistry]

Questions about the chemical reactions that occur on celestial bodies, in the interstellar medium, and in other astronomical environments.

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How are astrochemical reaction rates calculated? (UMIST)

To model the abundance of molecules in space, using chemical reaction networks we require large databases of chemical reaction rates e.g. UMIST database, I was wondering whether these are reaction ...
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Is the water underneath Europa's ice cap potable?

I read this question on Worldbuilding.SE, and figured that the astronomy site would have answers too, particularly for the specific example of Europa. The idea is that Earth's oceans are salty because ...
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What “long chain of carbon chemistry” in the interstellar medium produces cyclopropenylidene? (C3H2)

Wikipedia's Cyclopropenylidene; Titan (Moon of Saturn); Formationsays: The major formation reaction of c-C3H2 is the dissociative recombination of c-C3H3+. C3H3+ + e− → C3H2 + H c-C3H3+ is a product ...
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What exactly are “H30α and He30α images”? (ALMA)

I ran across this paper's title η Carinae: high angular resolution continuum, H30α and He30α ALMA images (arXiv) and see that the body of the paper also mentions "H40α, H30α and H29α". What ...
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Does lightning on Venus affect the chemical composition of the clouds?

It is established that lightning occurs on Venus due to the presence of sulfuric acid clouds. Does this constant electric discharges and possible electrolysis affects the composition of the clouds on ...
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Air molecules per cubic foot at a certain altitude above the surface

The Earth's and other celestial bodies' atmospheres become thinner the higher you go. Imagine you were able to see atoms/molecules. At what altitude above the Earth's and Mars' surface would you see ...
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Why doesn't Titan have a carbon dioxide atmosphere?

Earth's primitive atmosphere had large amounts of carbon dioxide, as did the ancient Martian atmosphere. Venus's current atmosphere is no exception either. So why does Titan have next to none of this ...
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Superconducting space dust; what transient fields could induce persistent current loops?

Science Alert's Superconductivity Has Been Discovered in Meteorites For The First Time quotes from Superconductivity found in meteorites (Wampler et al. PNAS March 23, 2020) The paper describes the ...
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Why does titanium oxide around Betelgeuse produce this particular sawtooth-shaped absorption spectrum?

Betelgeuse Just Isn’t That Cool: Effective Temperature Alone Cannot Explain the Recent Dimming of Betelgeuse suggests that the recent dimming might be caused by increased optical absorption by dust ...
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Are there examples of the effect of shock waves on chemical evolution in of interstellar medium or circumstellar medium?

Are there any examples of calculations or observations of suspected effects of shock waves on chemical evolution in interstellar medium or circumstellar medium?
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Is there a way to tell the difference between earth andesite from Mars

I'm curios if there is a way to test if this sample might be Martian andesite. What type of oxygen isotope (or other) test can be done to address this in some way? As background, any information ...
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Why do these astronomers say that “Carbon chains with more than nine atoms are unstable”?

The Phys.org article Interstellar iron isn't missing, it's just hiding in plain sight links to the paywalled article On the Structure, Magnetic Properties, and Infrared Spectra of Iron Pseudocarbynes ...
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What compounds are present in 3C273?

Anyone know if we have any chemical reactions occuring in this quasar?
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Diamonds in Neptune?

In this publication from 1981, was shown that Neptune is raining diamonds: Many of the current models of Uranus and Neptune postulate a three-layer structure, consisting of an inner rocky core, a ...
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Have caged molecules ever been observed in space?

astrosnapper@'s thorough answer to the question What is precipitable water vapor in millimeter-wave radioastronomy and how is it measured? links to the paper Observing Conditions for Submillimeter ...
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Why was helium hydride (HeH+) the universe's first molecule?

The abstract of the new Nature paper Astrophysical detection of the helium hydride ion HeH+ tell us that infrared spectroscopy from SOFIA detected ...rotational ground-state transition of HeH+ at ...
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What is the organic material in Saturn's rings?

The phys.org articleSurprising chemical complexity of Saturn's rings changing planet's upper atmosphere about the chemical complexity of Saturn's rings, quotes a member of the INMS (Thomas Cravens) as ...
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Would the dynamic pressure of the Sun’s solar wind be strong enough to trap plasma ions within an open container?

If you were to place a long cylinder, open at one end and closed at the other end, and position this cylinder so that the open end is facing the Sun, and then you were to inject plasma ions, such as ...
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What does a black hole elements consists of?

What are the elements of a black hole it just says what a black hole is? There must be elements that the sun consists of, right?
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Is there any difference among exoplanets in composition due to host star?

Simply put, would, say, rocky planets orbiting red dwarfs have a noticably different chemical makeup than rocky planets orbiting B-type main sequence stars? Mutatis mutandis gas giants and the other ...
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How is Phosphorus made in in stars? [duplicate]

What elements are required to fuse into phosphorus in a star. Can someone give me a step by step process please e.g 4 hydrogen nuclei fuse into one helium nuclei and then 3 helium nuclei fuse ...
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What is the limiting abundances of elements at the end of the stelliferous era?

Is there any reputable published source on expected elemental abundances at the end of the era of stellar fusion? I am here interested in the contents of galaxies; much of intergalactic gas will be ...
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How should I find a telescope for research time?

I'm an undergrad in physics and astronomy deciding to look into applying for time on a research telescope, and I'm not sure how to proceed with locating/finding telescopes that I can apply for time on....
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What is germane doing in the atmosphere of Jupiter?

Germane (GeH4) has been detected in the atmosphere Jupiter. Its formation from the elements seems to be thermodynamically unfavorable because its enthalpy of formation is positive and (I think) it ...
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What aliphatic compounds were found on Ceres, and how where they identified?

Los Angeles Times's article NASA's Dawn mission finds life's building blocks on dwarf planet Ceres says; While the scientists aren’t sure exactly what the compounds are, the fingerprint is ...
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How does this comet have alcohol in it?

Recently I read about comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy).The thing got me amazed was that scientists found it was dumping ethyl alcohol all along its way, at a rate of around 300-500 bottles per second. So I ...
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What factors influence the Widmanstätten pattern in iron meteorites?

The cores of iron meteorites exhibit beautiful Widmanstätten patterns, as shown below in the Alvord meteorite (photo by Jim H): I understand these patterns form when the molton nickel-iron core of ...
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Are sulfur and phosphorus also created in the nucleosynthesis of big stars?

There are as far as I know two fusion reactions by which stars convert hydrogen to helium: The CNO cycle (for carbon–nitrogen–oxygen) and the proton–proton chain reaction. The elements created in ...
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Is the composition of stars in future made of more and more heavy elements?

In the beginning stars only consisted of the hydrogen element and due to nuclear fusion of those elements in stars and supernova's more heavy elements were created. Because of that, like our Sun, the ...
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What does this information about “upper limit column densities” and “upper limit relative abundances” mean?

I was reading the abstract of a paper regarding attempts at detection of a molecular precursor to the amino acid glycine, and I came across concepts (and notation) that I found confusing. If someone ...
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What is the distribution of organic compounds in the Milky Way Galaxy?

I imagine the answer is unknown for the entire galaxy, but I would appreciate a notion of the scales and locations of regions where astronomers have ventured at least a guess to the distribution of ...
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Has THC been detected in space?

I was wondering if and how astronomers have/had detected the molecule Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), commonly known for it's effects in marijuana, in space. I had previously seen a hoax regarding the ...
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If there are neutron stars, would most stars be considered “proton stars”?

For example, the Sun is a giant sphere of positively charged plasma. About 72% of the elements in it are protium. This means that these protium atoms would have had to lose their electrons, right? If ...
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What happens to oxygen produced on the Sun (or other stars)?

Through nuclear fusion, the Sun can (or at the very least, someday will) produce atoms of all elements up to and including oxygen. And in terrestrial chemistry at least, when you combine oxygen, ...
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Why is there so much methane in space?

In school I learned that methane is organic matter and that it is a possible product of crude oil refinement. However, recently I read that Uranus has huge methane storms and the Saturn moon Titan ...
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Internal heat and planetary differentiation

I was reading an article on planetary differentiation, and apparently internal heat production plays a major role. There are several sources of such heat described, such as tidal heat, radiogenic heat,...