Astrochemistry

Astrochemistry at UVa covers a variety of research topics involving the chemistry that occurs in interstellar clouds of gas and dust throughout our galaxy and others, and the collapse of portions of these clouds to produce new stars and planets.  The chemistry is studied using large kinetic simulations to determine the concentrations of molecules, many of which are exotic by terrestrial standards, and to compare the results of these simulations with spectroscopic observations of these molecules using radiotelescopes.  Such comparisons yield a better understanding of the physical conditions in clouds, especially the regions that are collapsing to form stars.  Given the extreme conditions in interstellar clouds, the chemical processes that occur there are also often exotic, and these unusual processes, that occur both in the gas and on the surfaces of dust particles, are studied by theoretical methods. By simulating the chemistry that occurs in the interstellar medium over many millions of years and in many different regions, we can trace the progression of molecular complexity in the galaxy, and understand the chemical enrichment of material that will ultimately form stars and planets.  For more information on current research that is underway in the various labs visit their faculty websites below.