Research Training Network - FP6

Scientific quality of the proposal

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Project objectives

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, and galaxies. 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 chemical reactions 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: