The Open UniversitySkip to content

Multiple cosmic sources for meteorite macromolecules?

Sephton, Mark A.; Watson, Jonathan S.; Meredith, William; Love, Gordon D.; Gilmour, Iain and Snape, Colin E. (2015). Multiple cosmic sources for meteorite macromolecules? Astrobiology, 15(10) pp. 779–786.

Full text available as:
PDF (Version of Record) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (351kB) | Preview
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


The major organic component in carbonaceous meteorites is an organic macromolecular material. The Murchison macromolecular material comprises aromatic units connected by aliphatic and heteroatom-containing linkages or occluded within the wider structure. The macromolecular material source environment remains elusive. Traditionally, attempts to determine source have strived to identify a single environment. Here we apply a highly efficient hydrogenolysis method to liberate units from the macromolecular material and use mass spectrometric techniques to determine their chemical structures and individual stable carbon isotope ratios. We confirm that the macromolecular material comprises a labile fraction with small aromatic units enriched in 13C and a refractory fraction made up of large aromatic units depleted in 13C. Our findings suggest that the macromolecular material may be derived from at least two separate environments. Compound specific carbon isotope trends for aromatic compounds with carbon number may reflect mixing of the two sources. The story of the quantitatively dominant macromolecular material in meteorites appears to be made up of more than one chapter.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2015 The Authors
ISSN: 1557-8070
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Open University Rolling Grant 2008-2014 (SM-10-194-VP)ST/F007353/1STFC (Science & Technology Facilities Council)
Extra Information: 16 pp.
Keywords: meteorites; macromolecular organic matter; stable carbon isotopes
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Item ID: 44551
Depositing User: Iain Gilmour
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2015 08:22
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2020 10:55
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU