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Keywords:

  • astrobiology;
  • line: identification;
  • ISM: individual: Orion KL;
  • ISM: individual: Sgr B2(N);
  • ISM: individual: W51 e1/e2;
  • ISM: molecules

ABSTRACT

We have searched three hot molecular cores for submillimetre emission from the nucleic acid building block pyrimidine. We obtain upper limits to the total pyrimidine (beam-averaged) column densities towards Sgr B2(N), Orion KL and W51 e1/e2 of 1.7 × 1014, 2.4 × 1014 and 3.4 × 1014 cm−2, respectively. The associated upper limits to the pyrimidine fractional abundances lie in the range (0.3−3) × 10−10. Implications of this result for interstellar organic chemistry, and for the prospects of detecting nitrogen heterocycles in general, are discussed briefly.