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Molecular complexity in space (Objectives)

Over the last decade, the presence of large molecules in space has been well established through their infrared emission signatures (eg., the IR emission features) and their visual absorption bands (eg., the Diffuse Interstellar Bands). Their charge state is a balance between photo-ionization and electron recombination. Photons also play a fundamental role in determining their overall lifetime through photo-dissociation of the carbon skeleton and the production of specific fragments. The other process that is thought to play a key role in the evolution of large molecules is the interaction with energetic particles in shocks. Combining laboratory and theoretical studies into astronomical models of interstellar sources, the network will explore the evolution and the physical and chemical characteristics of large molecules in space. Specifically, the importance of the electron density, UV photolysis and shocks for the chemical evolution of large molecules will be quantified. In addition, this study will be supplemented by laboratory spectroscopy studies on astronomically relevant species. The network will then predict the observational signatures for this chemical evolution. In doing this the network will chart the path towards the identification of new molecules in the on-going exploration of chemical complexity in space. The emphasis in this effort will be on large PAHs and carbon chains. We anticipate a major breakthrough for the following questions: