The space between the stars is not empty but filled with a very dilute gas with extremely low densities and temperatures, providing a unique laboratory with conditions not normally encountered on Earth. A surprisingly rich chemistry occurs in these so-called interstellar clouds, as evidenced by the discovery of nearly 150 different molecules. Some of these species were found in space before they were identified in a laboratory on Earth. How are these molecules formed? Where are they found and how do astronomers identify them? How do their abundances differ from place to place and what does this tell us about the evolution of the region?
The lecture series starts with a description of the basic principles of gas-phase and gas-grain chemical reactions. Subsequently the chemistry in the early Universe, in diffuse and translucent clouds, in
photon- and X-ray dominated regions, and in shocks is discussed. Finally the evolution of molecular abundances from dark pre-stellar cores to star-forming regions and protoplanetary disks is presented and links with with early solar-system material, in particular that found in comets, are made.
7 lectures and 2 exercise sessions
Handouts of lecture notes; Background material: The physics and chemistry of the interstellar medium, 2005, A.G.G.M. Tielens (Cambridge University Press), chapters 4, 5, 9, 10.
Form of examination
Oral (by appointment) + presentation
Radiative processes, quantummechanics.
See the course website