Colloquium:Dr. Brett McGuire, National Radio Astronomy Obvs.


Physics : 401

Date & Time

April 17, 2019, 3:30 pm4:30 pm


TITLE: From Stars to Planets: The Physics and Chemistry of Complex Carbon in the Interstellar Medium


Carbon-containing molecules play critical roles in the birth and death of stars and planets, from the seeds of the interstellar dust grains that will eventually form rocky bodies to the feedstock of the complex organic (prebiotic) chemistry which may lead to life.  The field of astrochemistry studies molecules like these in space - where they are, how they got there, and what they are doing.  I'll describe the methods, both in high-precision laboratory spectroscopy and observational astronomy, that we use to detect and catalog new molecules in the ISM and learn how they fit into the larger picture of interstellar chemical evolution.  In particular, I will discuss our detection of the aromatic molecule benzonitrile in, surprisingly, the very earliest stages of star formation, and our recent work examining the apparently widespread implications of its presence.