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Room 304, Chemistry Building

Pathways to Chemical Complexity During Star- and Planet-Formation – Dr. Karin Öberg


Dr. Karin Öberg
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Hosted by: Professor Kevin Lehmann

Dr. Öberg’s Website

Please note that this is a Chemistry Faculty Hire seminar.

Complex organic molecules (>6 atoms) have been detected toward low- and high-mass protostars, galactic center clouds, protostellar outflows and comets, demonstrating the existence of efficient astrophysical pathways to chemical complexity. The detected molecules all reside in the gas. Yet they probably form on interstellar grains, in ices that evolve with their environment and finally evaporate as the grains are heated by new-born stars or by shocks.  This ice evolution is observed directly through infrared observations and indirectly through millimeter observations of evaporated ices. In this talk such observational results are combined with laboratory studies on different ice processes, especially UV photodesorption and UV induced organic chemistry, to map out the chemical evolution of ices during the pre- and proto-stellar stages of star formation. The protostellar stage is followed by the formation of a protoolanetary disk, with unique physical properties that may result in the activation new chemical pathways. I will conclude with exciting new observational results on the chemistry in protoplanetary disks, acquired with the SMA, and also some thoughts on what future observational and laboratory programs should be undertaken to expand our knowledge of the chemical evolution during planet formation.