Prof. Stephan Schlemmer (Universität zu Köln, Germany)
The formation of molecules in cold astrophysical environments is investigated in trap experiments. Higher order mulitpole traps are ideal instruments to simulate the cold conditions in space and the laboratory. For example protonated hydrogen, H3+, is a key molecular ion. Its role for the chemistry in cold astrophysical environments will be explained. One important mechanism of molecule formation discussed is radiative association. Here an ion collides with a neutral molecule and stabilzes by emission of a photon.This event is rare, yet under the conditions in space it is the only way to form many molecules. In cold environments deuterated molecules are often found enhanced by several orders of magnitude over their hydrogenated counterpart. This deuterium fractionation is driven by small differences in zero point energies of the corresponding molecules but many mystries are still unraveled. Understanding such processes will ultimately teach us about the coldest places in the world and link to the formation of stars and planets in space.