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Journal Articles Astronomy and Astrophysics Review Year : 2012

Our astrochemical heritage

Paola Caselli


Our Sun and planetary system were born about 4.5 billion years ago. How did this happen, and what is the nature of our heritage from these early times? This review tries to address these questions from an astrochemical point of view. On the one hand, we have some crucial information from meteorites, comets and other small bodies of the Solar System. On the other hand, we have the results of studies on the formation process of Sun-like stars in our Galaxy. These results tell us that Sun-like stars form in dense regions of molecular clouds and that three major steps are involved before the planet-formation period. They are represented by the prestellar core, protostellar envelope and protoplanetary disk phases. Simultaneously with the evolution from one phase to the other, the chemical composition gains increasing complexity. In this review, we first present the information on the chemical composition of meteorites, comets and other small bodies of the Solar System, which is potentially linked to the first phases of the Solar System's formation. Then we describe the observed chemical composition in the prestellar core, protostellar envelope and protoplanetary-disk phases, including the processes that lead to them. Finally, we draw together pieces from the different objects and phases to understand whether and how much we inherited chemically from the time of the Sun's birth.

Dates and versions

insu-03621707 , version 1 (28-03-2022)



Paola Caselli, Cecilia Ceccarelli. Our astrochemical heritage. Astronomy and Astrophysics Review, 2012, 20, ⟨10.1007/s00159-012-0056-x⟩. ⟨insu-03621707⟩
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