Complex Organic Molecules in Star-Forming Regions of the Magellanic Clouds

Marta Sewiło, Steven B. Charnley, Peter Schilke, Vianney Taquet, Joana M. Oliveira, Takashi Shimonishi, Eva Wirström, Remy Indebetouw, Jacob L. Ward, Jacco Th Van Loon, Jennifer Wiseman, Sarolta Zahorecz, Toshikazu Onishi, Akiko Kawamura, C. H.Rosie Chen, Yasuo Fukui, Roya Hamedani Golshan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC), gas-rich dwarf companions of the Milky Way, are the nearest laboratories for detailed studies on the formation and survival of complex organic molecules (COMs) under metal-poor conditions. To date, only methanol, methyl formate, and dimethyl ether have been detected in these galaxies- A ll three toward two hot cores in the N113 star-forming region in the LMC, the only extragalactic sources exhibiting complex hot-core chemistry. We describe a small and diverse sample of the LMC and SMC sources associated with COMs or hot-core chemistry, and compare the observations to theoretical model predictions. Theoretical models accounting for the physical conditions and metallicity of hot molecular cores in the Magellanic Clouds have been able to broadly account for the existing observations, but they fail to reproduce the dimethyl ether abundance by more than an order of magnitude. We discuss future prospects for research in the field of complex chemistry in the low-metallicity environment. The detection of COMs in the Magellanic Clouds has important implications for astrobiology. The metallicity of the Magellanic Clouds is similar to that of galaxies in the earlier epochs of the universe; thus, the presence of COMs in the LMC and SMC indicates that a similar prebiotic chemistry leading to the emergence of life, as it happened on Earth, is possible in low-metallicity systems in the earlier universe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2088-2109
Number of pages22
JournalACS Earth and Space Chemistry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Oct 17


  • Magellanic Clouds
  • astrochemistry
  • complex organic molecules
  • molecular abundances
  • star formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science


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