Investigating the limits of chemical complexity in sagittarius B2(N): A rigorous attempt to confirm 1,3-dihydroxyacetone

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

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28 Scopus citations


A search for confirming transitions of 1,3-dihydroxyacetone, (CH 2OH)2CO (hereafter DHA), has been made toward Sgr B2(N) using the Arizona Radio Observatory Submillimeter Telescope (SMT) and 12 m telescope at millimeter wavelengths. In addition, data for this species have been obtained at the Green Bank Telescope. In all, 63 new transitions of DHA were sought; no plausible emission was detected at 97% of these frequencies. Typical peak-to-peak limits of 10-30 mK were achieved, indicating that DHA is not present in Sgr B2(N) at the level reported by Widicus Weaver & Blake in 2005, by at least a factor of 300. The upper limit to the DHA column density is Ntot < 5 × 1013 cm-2, suggesting that this species, a three-carbon keto sugar, is less abundant than the two-carbon aldehyde sugar, glycolaldehyde (CH2OHCHO), by a factor of at least 4. If sugars of higher complexity are formed in interstellar clouds, their synthesis may proceed one carbon atom at a time, possibly through aldehyde intermediates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L29-L32
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 II
StatePublished - May 29 2006


  • Astrobiology
  • Astrochemistry
  • ISM: abundances
  • ISM: individual (Sagittarius B2)
  • ISM: molecules

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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