Molecular Astrophysics

Molecular astrophysics, developed into a rigorous field of investigation by theoretical astrochemist Alexander Dalgarno beginning in 1967, concerns the study of emission from molecules in space. There are 110 currently known interstellar molecules. These molecules have large numbers of observable transitions. Lines may also be observed in absorption—for example the highly redshifted lines seen against the gravitationally lensed quasar PKS1830-211. High energy radiation, such as ultraviolet light, can break the molecular bonds which hold atoms in molecules. In general then, molecules are found in cool astrophysical environments. The most massive objects in our galaxy are giant clouds of molecules and dust known as giant molecular clouds. In these clouds, and smaller versions of them, stars and planets are formed. One of the primary fields of study of molecular astrophysics is star and planet formation. Molecules may be found in many environments, however, from stellar atmospheres to those of planetary satellites. Most of these locations are relatively cool, and molecular emission is most easily studied via photons emitted when the molecules make transitions between low rotational energy states.

  • Electromagnetic spectrum
  • Molecules and Photons – Spectroscopy and Collisions
  • Diatomic molecules
  • Lasers, light beams and light pulses
  • Optical BLOCH Equations

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Molecular Astrophysics Conference Speakers

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