Interstellar detection of the highly polar five-membered ring cyanocyclopentadiene

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Abstract

Much like six-membered rings, five-membered rings are ubiquitous in organic chemistry, frequently serving as the building blocks for larger molecules, including many of biochemical importance. From a combination of laboratory rotational spectroscopy and a sensitive spectral line survey in the radio band toward the starless cloud core TMC-1, we report the astronomical detection of 1-cyano-1,3-cyclopentadiene (1-cyano-CPD, c-C5H5CN), a highly polar, cyano derivative of cyclopentadiene. The derived abundance of 1-cyano-CPD is far greater than predicted from astrochemical models that well reproduce the abundance of many carbon chains. This finding implies that either an important production mechanism or a large reservoir of aromatic material may need to be considered. The apparent absence of its closely related isomer, 2-cyano-1,3-cyclopentadiene, may arise from that isomer’s lower stability or may be indicative of a more selective pathway for formation of the 1-cyano isomer, perhaps one starting from acyclic precursors. The absence of N-heterocycles such as pyrrole and pyridine is discussed in light of the astronomical finding of 1-cyano-CPD.

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McCarthy, M. C., Lee, K. L. K., Loomis, R. A., Burkhardt, A. M., Shingledecker, C. N., Charnley, S. B., … McGuire, B. A. (2021). Interstellar detection of the highly polar five-membered ring cyanocyclopentadiene. Nature Astronomy, 5(2), 176–180. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-020-01213-y

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