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"Interstellar Space is a Quantum-Ruled Organic Chemistry Lab"

"Curiouser, and curiouser" said Alice.

There may be a suite of organic chemical reactions occurring in interstellar space that astronomers haven't considered. In 2012, astronomers discovered methoxy molecules containing carbon, hydrogen and oxygen in the Perseus molecular cloud, around 600 light years from Earth. But researchers were unable to reproduce this molecule in the lab by allowing reactants to condense on dust grains, leaving a mystery as to how it could have formed. The answer was found in Quantum weirdness that can generate a molecule in space that shouldn't exist by the classic rules of chemistry. In short, interstellar space is a kind of quantum chemistry lab, that may create a host of other organic molecules astronomers have discovered in space.

Because of the cold temperatures within the interstellar molecular clouds, reactions with an activation barrier were considered too slow to play an important role for most chemical reactions to occur. The low temperature makes it tough for molecules drifting through space to acquire the energy needed to break their bonds, but some reactions could occur when different molecules stick to the surface of cosmic dust grain. This might give them enough time together to acquire the energy needed to react. "There is a standard law that says as you lower the temperature, the rates of reactions should slow down," says Dwayne Heard of the University of Leeds, UK.
Read the full article in the Daily Galaxy via the link in the heading.

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