Hollow organic globules in the Tagish Lake meteorite as possible products of primitive organic reactions

Kelko Nakamura, Michael E. Zolensky, Satoshi Tomita, Satoru Nakashima, Kazushige Tomeoka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


We report the first in situ observation of hollow organic globules in any extraterrestrial material using the Tagish Lake carbonaceous chondrite. Data from analytical transmission electron microscopy, Raman and micro-Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy indicate that the globules consist of aliphatic and oxygenated functions. The hollow spherical morphologies are strikingly similar to the material produced by the laboratory simulation of ultraviolet photolysis of interstellar ice analogues and subsequent aqueous processing, suggesting that the organic globules in the Tagish Lake meteorite may be extremely primitive organic material that formed before or during the formation of the solar system. The FTIR organic signatures also show strong similarities to the membrane-like products formed from hydrothermal reaction of an OH-bearing amino acid in the presence of hydrous minerals. The survival of the structures in the Tagish Lake sample indicates that primitive meteorites must have delivered these structures to the early Earth as a possible precursor to life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-189
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Astrobiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Raman spectroscopy
  • TEM
  • carbonaceous chondrite
  • membrane
  • micro-FTIR spectroscopy
  • organic
  • precursor to life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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