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Discovery of the interstellar chiral molecule propylene oxide (CH_3CHCH_2O)

McGuire, Brett A. and Carroll, P. Brandon and Loomis, Ryan A. and Finneran, Ian A. and Jewell, Philip R. and Remijan, Anthony J. and Blake, Geoffrey A. (2016) Discovery of the interstellar chiral molecule propylene oxide (CH_3CHCH_2O). Science, 352 (6292). pp. 1449-1452. ISSN 0036-8075. doi:10.1126/science.aae0328.

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Life on Earth relies on chiral molecules—that is, species not superimposable on their mirror images. This manifests itself in the selection of a single molecular handedness, or homochirality, across the biosphere. We present the astronomical detection of a chiral molecule, propylene oxide (CH_3CHCH_2O), in absorption toward the Galactic center. Propylene oxide is detected in the gas phase in a cold, extended molecular shell around the embedded, massive protostellar clusters in the Sagittarius B2 star-forming region. This material is representative of the earliest stage of solar system evolution in which a chiral molecule has been found.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Materials data set Archive
McGuire, Brett A.0000-0003-1254-4817
Carroll, P. Brandon0000-0002-3191-5401
Loomis, Ryan A.0000-0002-8932-1219
Finneran, Ian A.0000-0003-2506-4652
Remijan, Anthony J.0000-0001-9479-9287
Blake, Geoffrey A.0000-0003-0787-1610
Alternate Title:Discovery of the Interstellar Chiral Molecule Propylene Oxide (CH3CHCH2O)
Additional Information:© 2016 American Association for the Advancement of Science. 31 December 2015; accepted 11 May 2016. Published online 14 June 2016. We thank the PRIMOS team, GBT, and Parkes staff for their ongoing support in acquiring the GBT and Parkes data and S. Breen, S. Mader, and J. Reynolds for assistance with Parkes data reduction. We acknowledge the support of L. Snyder, J. M. Hollis, and F. Lovas. B.A.M. thanks J. Mangum and J. Corby for helpful discussions. P.B.C. and B.A.M. acknowledge the support of a NASA Astrobiology Institute Early Career Collaboration Award. B.A.M. is funded by a National Radio Astronomy Observatory Jansky Postdoctoral Fellowship. R.A.L. and I.A.F. are funded by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. P.B.C., I.A.F., and G.A.B. acknowledge support from the NASA Astrobiology Institute through the Goddard Team (M. J. Mumma, PI) under Cooperative Research Agreements NNX09AH63A and NNX15AT33A(NNX09AH63A) and the NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics (AST-1109857) grant program. Access to the entire PRIMOS data set, specifics on the observing strategy, and overall frequency coverage information is available at The spectra obtained with Parkes are available through this website as well. Data from project AGBT06B-006 are available in the NRAO Archive at The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. The Australia Telescope Compact Array (Parkes Radio Telescope/Mopra Radio Telescope/Long Baseline Array) is part of the Australia Telescope National Facility, which is funded by the Australian government for operation as a National Facility managed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Radio Astronomy ObservatoryUNSPECIFIED
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization (CSIRO)UNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:6292
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160517-105025321
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Official Citation:Discovery of the interstellar chiral molecule propylene oxide (CH3CHCH2O) By Brett A. McGuire, P. Brandon Carroll, Ryan A. Loomis, Ian A. Finneran, Philip R. Jewell, Anthony J. Remijan, Geoffrey A. Blake Science17 Jun 2016 : 1449-1452
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:67158
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:14 Jun 2016 19:22
Last Modified:11 Nov 2021 00:28

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