Newsportal - Ruhr-Universität Bochum
How acids behave in ultracold interstellar space
Bochum-based researchers from the Cluster of Excellence Ruhr Explores Solvation (Resolv), together with cooperation partners from Nijmegen, have investigated how acids interact with water molecules at extremely low temperatures. “We would like to know whether the same acid-alkali chemistry as we know on Earth also exists in the extreme conditions in interstellar space,” explains Professor Martina Havenith, Speaker for Resolv. “The results are crucial for understanding how more complex chemical molecules formed in space – long before the first precursors of life came into existence.”
The RUB group led by Martina Havenith, Chair of Physical Chemistry II, and Professor Dominik Marx, Chair of Theoretical Chemistry, describes the results together with the cooperation partners from Radboud University in the journal Science Advances, published online in advance on 7 June 2019.
It comes down to the order
Using spectroscopic analyses and computer simulations, the researchers investigated the question of whether hydrochloric acid does or does not release its proton in conditions like those found in interstellar space. The answer was neither yes nor no, but instead depended on the order in which the team brought the water and hydrochloric acid molecules together. “Chemistry in space is by no means simple; it might even be more complex than chemistry under planetary conditions,” summarises Dominik Marx.
7 June 2019