In Spring 2017, I taught a two month graduate seminar on astrochemistry.
Astrochemistry considers the chemical content of the Universe: the formation, destruction and excitation of molecules. Astrochemistry provides us with a unique perspective: molecules can be used as tracers of physical conditions, such as temperature, density, radiation field, history, ionization, magnetic fields, etc. Furthermore, conditions in space are exotic due to the combination of low densities and temperatures: molecules that are impossible to form or survive on Earth, such as C-60 (“bucky-ball”), have actually been discovered in space. Astrochemistry connects a broad range of research fields: observations of molecular lines in star and planet forming regions and the interstellar medium (ISM), theoretical modeling of chemistry in particular environments and laboratory studies, where interstellar environments are reproduced in experiments in high vacuum chambers at very low temperatures. The formation of complex organic molecules is particularly interesting in the context of the origin of life in our Solar System and potentially elsewhere in the Universe. In the last decade, telescopes such as Spitzer (in the infrared) and JCMT, APEX, SMA and PdBI (in the submillimeter/millimeter) have given us the opportunity to study chemistry systematically in the Universe. More recently, ALMA with its superb sensitivity allows us an even deeper view on the chemical content of molecular clouds, galaxies and disks.
In this course I will discuss basic chemical processes, recent results from observations and laboratory work and possibilities for future work in astrochemistry. I will also dedicate a session to practical ALMA data reduction of molecular lines and use of online spectroscopy catalogs. Examination will be done through presentation of remarkable astrochemical discoveries from the literature.
The full course website can be found here