An organic compound is any member of a large class of gaseous, liquid, or solid chemicals whose molecules contain carbon. Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe by mass after hydrogen, helium, and oxygen. Carbon is abundant in the Sun, stars, comets, and in the atmospheres of most planets. Organic compounds are relatively common in space, formed by “factories of complex molecular synthesis” which occur in molecular clouds and circumstellar envelopes, and chemically evolve after reactions are initiated mostly by ionizing radiation. Based on computer model studies, the complex organic molecules necessary for life may have formed on dust grains in the protoplanetary disk surrounding the Sun before the formation of the Earth. According to the computer studies, this same process may also occur around other stars that acquire planets.


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