Molecules allow us to probe the physical properties of the interstellar medium, such as its temperature, density, and kinematics, or the radiation field and cosmic rays that impinge on it. They also reveal the chemical composition of astronomical environments, in particular star forming regions. This chemical composition is a powerful tool to probe the history of these regions and reveal their evolutionary stage. Studying this chemical composition across the phases of star formation tells us about the inheritance or reprocessing of the outcome of interstellar chemistry from the earliest stages (molecular cloud cores prior to the formation of stars) to the latest ones (circumstellar disks where planets form and life may appear).
Our group focuses in particular on the protostellar phase when complex organic molecules, that is carbon-bearing molecules consisting of at least six atoms, desorb from the surface of icy dust grains and reveal, through their rotational emission, so called hot cores and hot corinos. We employ mm/submm single-dish telescopes such as APEX or the IRAM 30m telescope and interferometers such as ALMA or NOEMA to perform imaging spectral line surveys of these chemically rich young stellar objects.
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