UV circular polarisation in star formation regions: the origin of homochirality?

Lucas, P. W., Hough, J., Bailey, J., Chrysostomou, A., Gledhill, T. M. and McCall, A. (2005) UV circular polarisation in star formation regions: the origin of homochirality? Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, 35(1), pp. 29-60. (doi: 10.1007/s11084-005-7770-6)

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Abstract

Ultraviolet circularly polarised light has been suggested as the initial cause of the homochirality of organic molecules in terrestrial organisms, via enantiomeric selection of prebiotic molecules by asymmetric photolysis. We present a theoretical investigation of mechanisms by which ultraviolet circular polarisation may be produced in star formation regions. In the scenarios considered here, light scattering produces only a small percentage of net circular polarisation at any point in space, due to the forward throwing nature of the phase function in the ultraviolet. By contrast, dichroic extinction can produce a fairly high percentage of net circular polarisation (∼10%) and may therefore play a key role in producing an enantiomeric excess.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hough, Professor James
Authors: Lucas, P. W., Hough, J., Bailey, J., Chrysostomou, A., Gledhill, T. M., and McCall, A.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Physics and Astronomy
Journal Name:Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres
Publisher:Kluwer Academic Publishers
ISSN:0169-6149
ISSN (Online):1573-0875

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