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Phosphorus Monoxide

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Encyclopedia of Astrobiology




Phosphorus monoxide is an unusual oxidized form of phosphorus, recently detected in the envelope expelled by an evolved star (most common phosphorus oxides on Earth are P4O6 and P4O10). PO is, with HCP, PN, PH3, and CP, one of the few molecular species outside the Earth containing phosphorus, an element that plays a central role in biochemistry. The P–O bond is present in adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and adenosine triphosphate (ATP).


Tenenbaum et al. (2007) detected phosphorus monoxide in the circumstellar shell of the oxygen-rich supergiant star VY Canis Majoris.

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Molecules in Space

Phosphorus Monoxide

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References and Further Reading

  • Tenenbaum ED, Woolf NJ, Ziurys LM (2007) Identification of phosphorus monoxide (X2Πr) in VY Canis Majoris: detection of the first P–O bond in space. Astrophys J Lett 666:L29–L32

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Correspondence to Didier Despois .

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© 2011 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

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Despois, D. (2011). Phosphorus Monoxide. In: Gargaud, M., et al. Encyclopedia of Astrobiology. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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