Archives

Astrochemistry: April 2021


Millimeter and centimeter observations are discovering an increasing number of interstellar complex organic molecules (iCOMs) in a large variety of star forming sites, from the earliest stages of star formation to protoplanetary disks and in comets.

Hydrocarbons are observed in the gas or solid phases of solar system objects, including comets, Trans-Neptunian Objects, planets and their moons. In the presence of water ice in these environments, hydrocarbons-bearing clathrate hydrates could form.

The thermodynamic structure of protoplanetary discs is determined by the dust opacities which depend on the size of the dust grains and their chemical composition.

Looking at the night sky, one's thoughts might be drawn to astrochemistry. What molecules inhabit the vast spaces between the stars? Would we see the same molecules that surround us here on Earth? Or would some of them be more exotic--something rarely observed or even unknown?

An international group of scientists led by the RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research have studied the chemical composition of 50 protoplanetary-disk forming regions in the Perseus Molecular Cloud, and found that despite being in the same cloud, the amounts of complex organic molecules they contain are quite different.

Dutch astronomer Ewine van Dishoeck (Leiden University, the Netherlands), together with an international team of colleagues, has written an overview of everything we know about water in interstellar clouds thanks to the Herschel space observatory.

Every year, our planet encounters dust from comets and asteroids. These interplanetary dust particles pass through our atmosphere and give rise to shooting stars. Some of them reach the ground in the form of micrometeorites.

We are made of stardust, the saying goes, and a pair of studies including University of Michigan research finds that may be more true than we previously thought.