M. Yesiltas, T. D. Glotch and B. Sava
Scientific Reports 11, 11656 (2021)
Meteorites contain organic matter that may have contributed to the origin of life on Earth. Carbonyl compounds such as aldehydes and carboxylic acids, which occur in meteorites, may be precursors of biologically necessary organic materials in the solar system. Therefore, such organic matter is of astrobiological importance and their detection and characterization can contribute to the understanding of the early solar system as well as the origin of life. Most organic matter is typically sub-micrometer in size, and organic nanoglobules are even smaller (50–300 nm). Novel analytical techniques with nanoscale spatial resolution are required to detect and characterize organic matter within extraterrestrial materials. Most techniques require powdered samples, consume the material, and lose petrographic context of organics. Here, we report the detection of nanoglobular aldehyde and carboxylic acids in a highly primitive carbonaceous chondrite (DOM 08006) with ~ 20 nm spatial resolution using nano-FTIR spectroscopy. Such organic matter is found within the matrix of DOM 08006 and is typically 50–300 nm in size. We also show petrographic context and nanoscale morphologic/topographic features of the organic matter. Our results indicate that prebiotic carbonyl nanoglobules can form in a less aqueous and relatively elevated temperature-environment (220–230 °C) in a carbonaceous parent body.