Sulfur comprises various compound forms in natural environments and could have played important roles in chemical evolution in the universe. Various soluble organosulfur compounds and inorganic sulfur oxides were identified in the methanol extracts of three carbonaceous chondrites (Murchison, Tagish Lake, and Allende) using high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with high-resolution mass spectrometry. The most abundant S-bearing organic compound was hydroxymethane sulfonic acid (HMSA, HOCH2SO3H), which is reported from a meteorite for the first time, at a concentration of 201 nmol/g in the Murchison meteorite. Because HMSA is known to be produced by the reaction of formaldehyde (HCHO) and bisulfite (HSO3-), this result indicates that formaldehyde should be abundant prior to the reaction with HSO3- in the meteorite parent bodies. The bisulfite derivatives of glycolaldehyde and glyceraldehyde were further identified in the methanol extract, suggesting that the formose reaction had proceeded during the aqueous alteration. The finding of these sugar-HSO3- adducts suggests that the formose reaction might have been controlled by the presence of sulfur species in the body. Furthermore, alkylated sulfonic acids (CnH2n+1SO3H) were also present as a series of homologous compounds up to C14 in the Murchison meteorite, even though previous studies found only C1-C4 sulfonic acids. In addition to organosulfur compounds, variable inorganic polysulfur oxides and acids were detected. The abundant S-bearing compounds in the meteorites imply important roles of sulfur in the organic reactions in carbonaceous asteroids.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- Atmospheric Science
- Space and Planetary Science