Abiotic synthesis of amino acids and imidazole by proton irradiation of simulated primitive earth atmospheres

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Proton irradiation of simulated primitive earth atmosphere was performed, and amino acids and imidazole were analyzed. A mixture of carbon monoxide and nitrogen over water was irradiated by high energy protons (3 MeV, 0.6 µA) generated by a Van de Graaff accelerator for 2–5 h. Various kinds of proteinous and non-proteinous amino acids were detected in the irradiation products. Imidazole present in the irradiation products was also detected by high-performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. The present results suggest that compounds of biological importance such as amino acids could be synthesized from primitive earth atmosphere by radiation of cosmic rays and/or solar flare particles.