Klaus Paschek (Germany)
paschek @ mpia.de
Formation of Complex Organic Molecules under Astrophysically Relevant Conditions
The ultimate questions related to the origin of life are: - How did the first living structures come to be? - What was the physical and chemical parameter space that favored formation of the key life building blocks? - How and under what conditions could have begun molecular evolution, driving autocatalytic organic networks towards greater complexity?
We propose to investigate these fundamental questions from the kinetic and thermodynamic modeling perspective, using (when possible) the experimental data from the organic chemistry laboratory of Prof. Oliver Trapp (Department of Chemistry, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, LMU) and literature. We aim to perform a multi-disciplinary study of the assorted reaction pathways to form amino acids, sugars, nucleobases, fatty acids, etc. from simple molecules like CO2, N2, NH3, H2O, H2S, HCN, CH4, H2, CO, or H2 inside carbonaceous asteroids via the Strecker synthesis. In particular, we want to extend our findings in Paschek (2021, in preparation), and put an emphasis on sugars as a direct extension of this study. As the next step, we want to extend the study Pearce (2017), in which our research group took part, to model the formation of more complex molecules in water ponds on the early Earth with the help of wet-dry cycles, using the precursor molecules delivered by meteorite impacts. Further, we aim to identify potential autocatalytic reaction networks, which are capable of undergoing molecular evolution, to understand the reaction mechanism on a more fundamental level.
Supervisor: Thomas Henning (MPIA)