Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

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


  • Kensei Kobayashi
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_980-4



Methanol is the simplest alcohol, with the structural formula CH3OH. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) recommends using the term methanol rather than methyl alcohol. Methanol is a colorless, volatile, and flammable liquid under standard conditions. Its melting and boiling point are −97.8 °C and 64.7 °C, respectively. It is a product of anaerobic metabolism of certain groups of bacteria and of the abiotic reduction of carbon monoxide with hydrogen. It is toxic to humans and other organisms since it is converted in vivo to formic acid, which many organisms have trouble metabolizing. Methanol is widely distributed in interstellar space, where it was identified in 1970. It is particularly abundant in star-forming regions such as hot cores and hot corinos. Methanol has also been identified in comets. Methanol has been used as one of the carbon sources in simulated interstellar ices, and amino acids are formed by irradiation...


Carbon Source Carbon Monoxide Formic Acid Standard Condition Charged Particle 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yokohama National UniversityYokohamaJapan