Prospectus

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The Aromatic Universe

Course 2019-2020

Admission requirements

Extensive knowledge of statistical physics and quantum mechanics is required. In terms of the Leiden curriculum, the Astronomy bachelor's courses Statistical Physics 1, Radiative processes, Quantum Mechanics 1, Quantum Mechanics 2 and the Astronomy master's course Interstellar Medium are a prerequisite for enrolling in the course. The Astronomy master's courses Astronomical Spectroscopy and Astrochemistry are recommended.

Description

This course introduces you to observations, experiments, and theory of large molecules in space.

The course starts with an overview of the observational evidence for the presence of large aromatic molecules in space. The physics and chemistry of large molecules is then described with an emphasis on the excitation of these species under conditions relevant for space. Finally, the role of these species in the organic inventory of space and in the evolution of the interstellar medium is discussed. During the exercise classes, you will apply the material covered in the lectures to relevant calculations.

This course covers the following topics:

  • Observations of interstellar PAHs and fullerenes
  • Physics of large aromatic molecules in space
  • Origin and evolution of aromatic molecules in space
  • Role of large aromatic molecules in the physics and chemistry of the interstellar medium of galaxies

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course you will be able to describe the characteristics of large aromatic molecules in space and the observational evidence supporting this. Moreover, you will be able to make basic calculations and read the scientific literature on the topic.

Upon completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Explain the basic properties of large aromatic molecules
  • Describe the excitation of large molecules using microcanonical and canonical ensembles
  • Calculate emission spectra of large molecules in space
  • Calculate the unimolecular dissociation of large molecules in space
  • Explain how large aromatic molecules contribute to the organic inventory of space
  • Explain how large molecules affect the evolution of the interstellar medium of galaxies
  • Interpret observations of the large molecules in space

Soft skills

In this course, you are trained in the following behavior-oriented skills:

  • Abstract thinking
  • Explaining and analyzing complex and non-intuitive concepts

Timetable

See Astronomy master schedules

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures
  • Practical classes

Assessment method

• Presentation followed by a discussion with the class on a topic within the field of large aromatic molecules in space (50% of the final grade)
• Oral exam, by appointment (50% of the final grade)

Blackboard

Students should enroll on Blackboard before the first lecture. Blackboard 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.

Reading list

Physics and chemistry of the interstellar medium (A.G.G.M. Tielens), ISBN 9780521826341

Registration

Register via uSis. More information about signing up for classes and exams can be found here. Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to register. For Interest only & Contractual enrolment, please see this website (in Dutch only).

Contact information

Lecturer: Prof.dr. A.G.G.M. (Xander) Tielens
Assistant: Cornelia Pabst