Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Iglesias-Groth, Susana; Cataldo, Franco
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The nucleobases, namely the purines adenine and guanine and the pyrimidines cytosine, thymine, and uracil, are the key monomers of the information polymers DNA and RNA. All the nucleobases were recently detected in the analysis of certain meteorites known as carbonaceous chondrites. The concentration of the nucleobases found in meteorites is smaller than the concentration of amino acids. However, the nucleobases were successfully synthesized abiotically by ultraviolet irradiation of interstellar ice analogues at 10 K. Consequently, it is possible that the purines and pyrimidines may be present in the interstellar medium or in other space environments and may be detectable by the new orbiting telescopes that indeed are able to cover not only the mid-infrared spectral range but also the far-infrared. This work supplies the reference spectra of the five nucleobases used by the terrestrial biochemistry in the mid-infrared and in the far-infrared with the purpose to facilitate the search and identification of these astrobiological and astrochemical relevant molecules in space. The mid-infrared spectra of all nucleobases were recorded at three different temperatures from -180 °C to nearly ambient temperature and at +250 °C. Furthermore, the molar extinction coefficients (ɛ) of all mid- and far-infrared bands were determined, as well as the integrated molar absorptivities (ψ). With the reported infrared spectra together with the ɛ and ψ values, it will be possible to identify qualitatively the nucleobases and estimate their relative abundance in space.