UV circular polarisation in star formation regions: The origin of homochirality?

P. W. Lucas*, J. H. Hough, Jeremy Bailey, Antonio Chrysostomou, T. M. Gledhill, Alan Mccall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Ultraviolet circularly polarised light has been suggested as the initial cause of the homochirality of organic molecules in terrestrial organisms, via enantiomeric selection of prebiotic molecules by asymmetric photolysis. We present a theoretical investigation of mechanisms by which ultraviolet circular polarisation may be produced in star formation regions. In the scenarios considered here, light scattering produces only a small percentage of net circular polarisation at any point in space, due to the forward throwing nature of the phase function in the ultraviolet. By contrast, dichroic extinction can produce a fairly high percentage of net circular polarisation (∼10%) and may therefore play a key role in producing an enantiomeric excess.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-60
Number of pages32
JournalOrigins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2005


  • Circularly polarized light
  • Enantiomers
  • Homochirality
  • Origins of life
  • Star formation regions


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