First principle study of interstellar molecules
Title: First principle study of interstellar molecules
SNIC Project: SNIC 2021/5-250
Project Type: SNIC Medium Compute
Principal Investigator: Tao Chen <>
Affiliation: Kungliga Tekniska högskolan
Duration: 2021-05-31 – 2022-06-01
Classification: 10407


Carbonaceous molecules are widely observed in the interstellar medium (ISM), including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), nanotubes, fullerenes, and their derivatives and clusters. How did these molecules condense from atoms in the gas phase? Where were they first formed? Did they undergo physical or chemical changes during their voyage through the ISM? Why are only certain kinds of solid materials made? Since comets, meteorites, asteroids, the terrestrial planets, and Earth are just larger aggregates of solid material, are these solar system objects chemically related to interstellar grains? The understanding of the chemical and physical origins of interstellar molecules are, therefore, of great importance. I propose to perform the first principle study on fragmentation, isomerization, molecular growth and infrared features of interstellar molecules. As the sensitivities of detecting instruments continue to improve and the spectral coverage continues to widen, these complex molecules will be discovered by infrared and millimeter observations. The chemical reactions that lead to the formation of such large molecules will provide invaluable clues to the question of the formation of planets, stars, and evolution of galaxies. Moreover, this study also serves as useful probes to the physical conditions of the ISM, providing measurements of the density, temperature, and kinematics of the interstellar clouds.