Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Investigating the Limits of Chemical Complexity in SgrB2(N): A Rigorous Attempt to Confirm 1,3-Dihydroxyacetone



A J. Apponi, D T. Halfen, L M. Ziurys, J M. Hollis, A Remijan, Francis J. Lovas


A targeted search for confirming transitions of 1,3-dihydroxyacetone, (CH2OH)2CO, (hereafter DHA), was made toward SgrB2(N) using the ARO SMT and 12m telescope at mm wavelengths. In addition, a targeted search for glyceraldehyde, CH2OHCHOHCHO, was made toward the same source with the GBT at cm wavelengths in wide passbands which fortuitously contained two favorable transitions of DHA. In all, 63 new transitions of DHA were sought but no plausible emission was detected at 97% of these frequencies. Typical peak-to-peak limits of 10 to 30 mK were achieved, indicating that DHA is probably not present in SgrB2(N) at the level that would be predicted from DHA results reported by Widicus Weaver & Blake (2005). We obtain an upper limit to the total DHA column density of < 5 x 1013 cm-2, suggesting that DHA, a 3-carbon keto sugar, is less abundant than the 2-carbon aldehyde sugar, glycolaldehyde (CH2OHCHO), at 2 x 1014 cm-2. If sugars of higher complexity are formed in interstellar clouds, our data suggest that sugar synthesis is not particularly efficient and may proceed one atom at a time, possibly through reactions involving aldehydes such as formaldehyde (H2CO), acetaldehyde (CH3CHO) and propanal (CH3CH2CHO).
Astrophysical Journal


Astrobiology, Astrochemistry, Dihydroxyacetone, Interstellar Molecules, Microwave Spectra, Radio Astronomy, Rotational Spectra


Apponi, A. , Halfen, D. , Ziurys, L. , Hollis, J. , Remijan, A. and Lovas, F. (2006), Investigating the Limits of Chemical Complexity in SgrB2(N): A Rigorous Attempt to Confirm 1,3-Dihydroxyacetone, Astrophysical Journal (Accessed April 20, 2024)
Created May 9, 2006, Updated October 12, 2021