The Genesis Projects: Laboratory Studies in Molecular Astrophysics from the First Star to the Beginnings of Organic Chemistry
Molecular Physics seminar
Monday 07 November 2011
to 11:00 at
Prof. Daniel W. Savin (Columbia University, USA)
Interstellar chemistry plays an important role in the evolution of theuniverse from the dark ages to the formation of life. I will discusstwo particularly important links in this chain of chemical reactions.The first is the formation of H2 in the early universe. Uncertaintiesin this process limit our ability to reliably model the formation of thefirst stars. The other link we study is the start of the cosmicpathway to life which begins in interstellar gas clouds where atomiccarbon is "fixed" into molecules, thereby initiating the synthesis ofthe complex organic molecules that are eventually sequestered onplanets. These reactions initiate not only the formation of organicmolecules in the cosmos, but also provide some of the first threadsknitting together atoms and molecules into solid material. Suchprocesses are critical for the eventual formation of planets and maydetermine a major component of the organic chemistry that is present ontheir young surfaces. I will briefly review these motivations for ourresearch and explain how we reproduce the relevant reactions throughlaboratory experiments.