International Journal of Astrobiology

Research Article

Evidence for biodegradation products in the interstellar medium

Kani Raufa1 and Chandra Wickramasinghea1 c1

a1 Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology, Cardiff University, 2 North Road, Cardiff CF10 3DY, UK

Abstract

The interstellar absorption band centred on 2175 Å that is conventionally attributed to monodisperse graphite spheres of radii 0.02 μm is more plausibly explained as arising from biologically derived aromatic molecules. On the basis of panspermia models, interstellar dust includes a substantial fraction of biomaterial in various stages of degradation. We have modeled such an ensemble of degraded biomaterial with laboratory spectroscopy of algae, grass pigments, bituminous coal and anthracite. The average ulrtraviolet absorption profile for these materials is centred at 2175 Å with a full width at half maximum of 250 Å, in precise agreement with the interstellar extinction observations. Mid-infrared spectra also display general concordance with the unidentified interstellar absorption features found in a wide variety of astronomoical sources.

(Received September 27 2009)

(Accepted October 18 2009)

(Online publication November 20 2009)

Correspondence:

c1 e-mail: Wickramasinghe@cf.ac.uk