28-30 September 2016
Tagungstätte Schloss Ringberg, Kreuth
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Contribution Contributed Talk


Vibrationally Excited Organic Astromolecules in the Millimeter-wavelength Region


  • Mr. Benjamin ARENAS

Primary authors



State-of-the-art observational technologies at facilities such as the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), and others, are allowing scientists to explore some long-standing astronomical questions about chemical evolution. The rapid increase in data from these sources necessitates a concurrent increase in high-quality laboratory spectroscopy. Broadband rotational spectroscopy is a proven tool in addressing this. We use this technique to tackle issues such as complex organic molecules (COMs) being built up from simpler precursors, finding new COMs in the interstellar medium (ISM) and investigating how dust and ice grain chemistry affects the organic material found.

The role of vibrationally excited states in astrochemistry is relatively unexplored$^1$. Our commercial $^2$ segmented chirped-pulse millimeter-wave spectrometer operates at room temperature, where vibrationally excited states are observable. This spectrometer covers the region 75 – 110 GHz, allowing us to directly compare the laboratory spectra with observational data.

We study alcohols, aldehydes and cyanides, among others, in the quest to answer questions about larger oxygen- and nitrogen-containing biomolecules. Presented here are the room temperature studies of 1,2-propanediol, a potentially astrochemically relevant molecule $^{3,4}$, and isopropyl cyanide, the first branched organic molecule detected in the ISM$^{5, 6}$. We have assigned several vibrationally excited states within these spectra, resulting in line lists and rotational constants that astronomers can use to detect these species in interstellar space.

Our ongoing aims include the use of spatial distribution maps of small- and medium-sized organic molecules, and their vibrational states, to hypothesise physical conditions in interstellar space and explore interstellar chemistry.


$^1$ C. A. Gottlieb et al., ApJS 189 (2010) 261-269.

$^2$ Brightspec, Inc., www.brightspec.com, accessed 01 June 2016.

$^3$ F. J. Lovas et al., J. Mol. Spectrosc. 257 (2009) 82-93.

$^4$ J.-B. Bossa et al., A&A 570 (2014) A12.

$^5$ H. S. P. Müller et al., J. Mol. Spectrosc. 267 (2011) 100-107.

$^6$ A. Belloche et al., Science 345 (2014) 1584-1587.