nl en

Observational Molecular Astronomy in Galaxies


Admission requirements

Some knowledge in Radiative Processes is required


Molecules pervade the cooler, denser parts of the Universe, in particular the reservoirs of the matter than forms stars and planets, and the gas in the centres of galaxies. These denser, cooler components of cosmic gas contain a significant fraction of the non-stellar baryonic matter in a galaxy and astronomers routinely use molecules to discover and explore these regions: the more complex the chemistry, the more details of the gas the molecules reveal. Hence, molecular line emissions offer astronomers exciting opportunities to learn how galaxies form, evolve and interact with each other.
The course will cover:

  • A brief overview of what drives cosmic chemistry in different types of galaxies

  • Hands-on lectures on how to obtain useful astronomical information from raw telescope data

  • Determination of the suitable molecular tracers for many types of astronomical regions including starburst galaxies, AGNs, dwarf galaxies and high redshift galaxies.

Course objectives

this course aims to provide a background of understanding so that the student can begin to address the following questions:
1) Why are different astronomical regions (outflows, shocks, star-forming clouds, AGNs) best traced in lines from different molecules?
2) Which are the most suitable tracers for studying different types of galaxies?
3) How does the observer convert raw telescope data into astrophysically useful information?
4) How can the most complete physical description be extracted from the data?

Soft skills

In this course the students will be trained in:

  • Structural and critical thinking (inc. modular and computational thinking, checking assumptions)

  • Problem solving

  • Presenting papers


See Astronomy master schedules

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

  • Hands-on classes

Assessment method

Exam (70%) and Assignment (30%)


Brightspace will be used to communicate with students and to share lecture slides, homework assignments, and any extra materials. To have access, you need a student ULCN account.


Via uSis. More information about signing up for your classes can be found here. Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.

Reading list

Notes will be provided (partly based on the book "Observational Molecular Astronomy, Williams & Viti, ISBN 978-1-107-01816-7)

Contact information

Lecturer: Prof.dr. S. Viti