Research Training Network - FP6

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Molecular complexity in space (Objectives)

Molecules dominate the physics and chemistry of astrophysical objects. Water plays an important role in the energy budget of the gas and will be a prime target for the Herschel observatory. The consortium will explore this role through fundamental studies on the excitation conditions and spectroscopy of this key molecule and detailed astronomical models including chemistry and radiative transfer.

The abundance of deuterated molecules allows to trace the chemistry at very low temperatures. The consortium will explore the properties of these deuterated species in terms of reactivity and spectroscopy. A model will be built to determine the abundance of deuterated molecules in star-forming regions.

An important aspect of chemistry is the building of complex molecules. The consortium will explore the evolution and the physical and chemical characteristics of large carbon chains and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon molecules in space by combining laboratory and theoretical studies into astronomical models of interstellar sources. 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 consortium will then predict the observational signatures for this chemical evolution. In doing this the consortium will chart the path towards the identification of new molecules in the on-going exploration of chemical complexity in space.