Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

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


  • Hans Olofsson
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_1847-2


IRC+10216, also known by its variable star name CW Leonis, is a red giant star on the asymptotic giant branch with a carbon-rich atmospheric composition, i.e., the atmospheric abundance of carbon exceeds that of oxygen. It is probably the most nearby object of its kind, and it loses substantial amounts of matter from its surface. This stellar wind creates a dense circumstellar envelope which is rich in molecules and carbon dust. More than 80 different circumstellar molecular species have been detected, the majority being long, unsaturated, carbon chains of different types (incl. anions) and many of them being unique to the circumstellar medium.

See Also


Bioorganic Chemistry Molecular Species Carbon Chain Stellar Wind Variable Star 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth and Space SciencesChalmers University of TechnologyGothenburgSweden