Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

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

Parent Molecule, Comet

  • Jacques Crovisier
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_1157-5


A parent molecule is a molecule directly released from cometary material, e.g., by sublimation of cometary ices. It contrasts with daughter molecules, which are their degradation products. Historically, daughter molecules (CN, C2, C3, CH, OH, NH…) were first observed in cometary spectra from their electronic bands in the visible and the nature of their parents was the subject of speculations. Parent molecules (H2O, CO, CO2, NH3, HCN, hydrocarbons…) were definitely identified more recently from their vibrational bands and rotational lines in the infrared and radio spectral domains, as well as from in situ mass spectroscopy.

See Also


Mass Spectroscopy Degradation Product Bioorganic Chemistry Electronic Band Vibrational Band 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LESIAObservatoire de ParisMeudonFrance