Protostellar and cometary detections of organohalogens

Fayolle, Edith C.; Öberg, Karin I.; Jørgensen, Jes K.; Altwegg, Kathrin; Calcutt, Hannah; Müller, Holger S. P.; Rubin, Martin; van der Wiel, Matthijs H. D.; Bjerkeli, Per; Bourke, Tyler L.; Coutens, Audrey; van Dishoeck, Ewine F.; Drozdovskaya, Maria N.; Garrod, Robin T.; Ligterink, Niels F. W.; Persson, Magnus V.; Wampfler, Susanne (2017). Protostellar and cometary detections of organohalogens. Nature astronomy, 1(10), pp. 703-708. Nature Publishing Group 10.1038/s41550-017-0237-7

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Organohalogens, a class of molecules that contain at least one halogen atom bonded to carbon, are abundant on the Earth where they are mainly produced through industrial and biological processes. Consequently, they have been proposed as biomarkers in the search for life on exoplanets. Simple halogen hydrides have been detected in interstellar sources and in comets, but the presence and possible incorporation of more complex halogen-containing molecules such as organohalogens into planet-forming regions is uncertain. Here we report the interstellar detection of two isotopologues of the organohalogen CH₃Cl and put some constraints on CH₃F in the gas surrounding the low-mass protostar IRAS 16293–2422, using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). We also find CH₃Cl in the coma of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P/C-G) by using the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) instrument. The detections reveal an efficient preplanetary formation pathway of organohalogens. Cometary impacts may deliver these species to young planets and should thus be included as a potential abiotical production source when interpreting future organohalogen detections in atmospheres of rocky planets.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Center for Space and Habitability (CSH)
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute

UniBE Contributor:

Altwegg, Kathrin, Rubin, Martin, Wampfler, Susanne


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
600 Technology > 620 Engineering
500 Science > 530 Physics




Nature Publishing Group




Dora Ursula Zimmerer

Date Deposited:

13 Nov 2017 16:37

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:07

Publisher DOI:





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