Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

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

Ethyl Formate

  • William M. Irvine
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_5103-1



Ethyl formate is among the largest organic molecules unambiguously detected by radio astronomers in the interstellar medium. It is also called ethyl methanoate. Ethyl formate is partly responsible for the flavor of raspberries, and it has the characteristic odor of rum.


The trans conformer of ethyl formate was detected in the Galactic Center molecular cloud Sagittarius B2(N) by Belloche et al. (2009), who suggest that it may be produced by surface reactions on interstellar dust grains, perhaps involving precursors such as methyl formate and ethanol (for the definition of conformers, see isomer). More recently, the gauche conformer has also been detected, in a line survey of the Orion molecular cloud (Tercero et al. 2013). Ethyl formate is the second formate, after methyl formate, to be detected in the interstellar medium. Its isomermethyl acetate (CH3COOCH3) has also been recently detected in a molecular cloud in the Milky Way.



Bioorganic Chemistry Organic Molecule Surface Reaction Interstellar Medium Molecular Cloud 
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References and Further Reading

  1. Belloche A, Garrod RT, Müller HSP, Menten KM, Comito C, Schilke P (2009) Increased complexity in interstellar chemistry: detection and chemical modeling of ethyl formate and n-propyl cyanide in Sagittarius B2(N). Astron Astrophys 499:215–232ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Tercero B, Kleiner I, Cernicharo J, Nguyen HVL, López A, Muñoz Caro GM (2013) Discovery of methyl acetate and gauche ethyl formate in Orion. Astrophys J 770:L13–L19ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AstronomyUniversity of Massachusetts, Lederle Graduate Research Tower B 619EAmherstUSA