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Molecular Spectroscopy

Lead: Michael C. McCarthy
Contributing Participants: Thomas Gallagher, Alyssa Goodman, Philip Jewel, Brooks Pate, David Plusquellic, Anthony Remijan & Susanna Widicus Weaver


In Phase I the molecular spectroscopy team is working to integrate the tools for high-speed broadband Fourier transform microwave (FTMW) spectroscopy with high sensitivity cavity FTMW techniques for use in chemical identification. The group is also working closely with NRAO to coordinate laboratory and interstellar measurements and to explore the way that next-generation radio-astronomy observatories with high resolution imaging capabilities can be used to reveal reaction chemistry in interstellar environments.


Phase II will focus on using spectroscopy to create chemical maps of the interstellar medium. Next-generation radio astronomy observatories will provide the first, high-fidelity, high-spatial resolution images of the chemical composition in the interstellar medium with unprecedented sensitivity and with nearly complete spectral coverage from 1 GHz – 1 THz. With their broadband detection capabilities these observatories will transform the field of interstellar chemistry from data-poor to data-rich. The Molecular Spectroscopy Team will play a central role in developing the tools to convert raw spectral data from radio astronomy into chemical images that can reveal the underlying interstellar reaction processes. Towards this end, three major tasks of this team in Phase II are:


1) To develop experimental techniques and analysis tools to identify reaction products and reactive intermediates under conditions designed to mimic the interstellar chemistry environment.

2) To create spectrum and image analysis tools to convert large spectroscopic data sets into chemically useful information.

3) To develop complementary broadband and narrowband spectrometers with coverage from 1 GHz – 1 THz to match the range of radio astronomy.


Web Applet: Laboratory Spectroscopy of Relevant Astrochemical Species


Research Highlights: