Oct 23, 2017

Susanna Widicus Weaver

"Complex Chemistry in Regions of Star and Planet Formation"

The dense hot cores around newly-formed stars harbor the highest abundances of complex organic molecules detected in the interstellar medium (ISM).  It is in this hot core phase where the chemistry of space transitions from exotic and unstable molecules to an organic chemical inventory that closely resembles that of Earth.  However, with the development of sensitive far-IR observatories, we have recently discovered that the chemistry of the ISM in colder, prestellar cores, as well as in accretion disks, may be as rich as that observed in hot cores. The observational astronomy portion of my research program seeks to examine the chemical mechanisms at play in a range of interstellar environments and to identify chemical tracers that can be used as clocks for the star-formation process.  In this seminar, I will overview our observational results obtained with the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO), the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter Astronomy (CARMA), the Herschel Space Observatory, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA).  I will present the results of an extensive spectral line survey program aimed at examining chemistry across a variety of source types, including the details of the observations, new molecular detections, trends in molecular complexity as a function of physical environment, and the implications of these results for our understanding of the evolution of biologically-relevant chemistry as stars and planets form.  I will discuss these results in the broader context of my integrative research program that encompasses laboratory spectroscopy, observational astronomy, and astrochemical modeling.

Event Details

Oct 23, 2017


4421 Sterling Hall

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