Over the next five years, European ground-based and space-based
missions will open up the universe to high spatial and spectral
resolution studies at infrared and submillimeter wavelengths.
This will allow us to study, in much greater detail, the
composition and the origin and evolution of molecules in space.
Moreover, molecular transitions in these spectral ranges provide
a sensitive probe of the dynamics and the physical and chemical
conditions in a wide range of objects at scales ranging from
budding planetary systems to galactic and extragalactic
sizes. Hence, these missions provide us with the tools to
study key astrophysical and astrochemical processes
involved in the formation and evolution of planets, stars,
These new missions can be expected to lead to the detection
of many thousands of new spectral features.
Identification, analysis and interpretation of these
features in terms of the physical and chemical
characteristics of the astronomical sources will require
detailed astronomical modeling tools supported by
laboratory measurements and theoretical studies of
and collisional excitation rates on species of astrophysical
relevance. These data will have to be made easily accessible to
the scientific community through web-based data archives.
We propose a joint study within a European Research and
Training Network on the molecular universe. The goal of this
network will be to structure a training program in the field
of molecular astrophysics, which will provide a cohesive framework
for the training and development of researchers, especially in the early
stages of their career.
This highly interdisciplinary research area
combines astronomy, physics, and chemistry on molecules in
space and is directly linked to present and near-future
large scale European Research projects in astronomy of the
European Space Agency and the European Southern Observatory.
The specific scientific objectives of this RTN are:
- Molecular complexity in space
- Chemistry in regions of star formation