Scientific quality of the proposal
Molecular complexity in space (Originality)
1. Water in the Universe
Water is a cornerstone molecule in interstellar chemistry –
influencing the abundances of many other species – and it can
be a dominant reservoir of elemental oxygen in the gas phase.
Because of its many levels, water is also an important coolant, which
can dominate the energy balance of the gas in such regions. This
occurs in a very subtle way through a delicate balance between
absorption of IR continuum radiation and rotational line emission;
often in the same transition. The many water levels with their
different Einstein A values also provide a powerful diagnostic of the
physical conditions in the emitting gas.
2. Carbon chemistry
Complex carbonaceous molecules are omnipresent in space. For these
large carbonaceous molecules, identification of specific molecules in
space will have to be made through observations of their electronic
transitions in the visible and ultraviolet or through their low
ro-vibrational transitions in the submillimeter. Both of these types
of transitions are unique tools for the identification of the
specific molecules present in space.
3. Deuterium chemistry
Deuterium fractionation provides a powerful diagnostic tool for
astronomy as the observed deuterium enhancement reflects the chemical
routes involved, the actual energetic differences of the molecular
species involved, and the local physical conditions. A concerted
research effort will be directed towards identifying the chemical
routes, the spectroscopy of deuterated species and their excitation.