Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Methyl Radical (CH3)

  • William M. IrvineEmail author
Living reference work entry

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_1819-5




The methyl radical CH3 is stable enough to be observable under laboratory conditions in a dilute gas, although it readily dimerizes to ethane. It is an important intermediary in gas-phase interstellar chemistry. The incorporation of a methyl group, −CH3, into organic compounds can have fundamental biological effects.


The CH3 radical was detected in interstellar molecular clouds at wavelengths of about 16 microns using the Infrared Space Observatory (Feuchtgruber et al. 2000). It is also present in planetary/satellite atmospheres such as that of Titan (Luspay-Kuti et al. 2016).


References and Further Reading

  1. Feuchtgruber H, Helmich FP, van Dishoeck EF, Wright CM (2000) Detection of interstellar CH3. Astrophys J 535:L111–L114ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Luspay-Kuti A, Mandt KE, Westlake JH, Plessis S, Greathouse TK (2016) The role of nitrogen in Titan’s upper atmospheric hydrocarbon chemistry over the solar cycle. Astrophys J 823:763ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AstronomyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA