An understanding of the formation, distribution and overall excitation of large molecules in astronomical environments remains in question even though more than 170 distinct chemical compounds have been detected in astronomical environments. Furthermore, a large fraction of this molecular material is organic and contains the molecular precursors to more complex biogenic material including amino acids and nucleotides. In this work, we present the first detection of the prebiotically important molecule E-cyanomethanimine, also known as the chemical HCN-dimer, towards Sagittarius B2(N). The detection was made by comparing the publically available GBT PRIMOS survey to laboratory chemical reaction screening measurements of NH3 and CH3CN which were monitored using rotational spectroscopy. A total of 8 transitions between 9 and 50 GHz were observed in the PRIMOS data. In addition to the interstellar detection, a refinement to the existing laboratory spectroscopy of both E-cyanomethanimine and Z-cyanomethanimine was performed. Finally, an analysis of the column density, rotational temperature, and formation chemistry of E-cyanomethanimine is presented.
Citation: Astrophysical Journal Letters
Pub Type: Journals
E-cyanomethanimine, Green Bank Telescopy, interstellar molecule, microwave spectrum, radio astronomy, rotational spectrum