Research topics


The life cycle of interstellar matter plays an important role in the evolution of astronomical objects, from the small scales of stars and planetary systems right up to the large scales of galaxies. This matter is tightly coupled with photons, the magnetic field and cosmic rays. In order to study it, we need to understand the nature of its constituents, their physical and chemical evolution, the dynamics of the surrounding medium and how they are all coupled. This domain will undergo significant advances in the coming years thanks to access to the sub-mm wavelength range provided by the two spatial missions Herschel and Planck as well as improved angular resolution and sensitivity in the IR to the mm range of astronomical instruments: JWST, ALMA and in the future, SPICA.

Our activities are based on :

  • Strong implication, both instrumentally and scientifically, in current observational projects with  Herschel and  Planck as well as the future missions  PILOT and  SPICA. The analysis of data from Herschel and Planck will form a large part of our activities during the next few years. Our technicians and engineers will be particularly busy finalizing PILOT, continuing the work we have started with the SAFARI instrument for SPICA, as well as performing R&D to prepare for future missions : CMBPol, FIRI.
  • Strong scientific implication in observational projects using ground-based telescopes such as the 30m IRAM plateau de Bure radio telescope,  CSO JCMT ATCA GBT (, etc...  The data acquired by these single dish telescopes or interferometres provides us with substantial data to analyze using models which are then returned to the scientific community via the publication of articles in various refereed journals.
  • The development of models used to interpret dust and gas emission, to describe the magnetic field and the distribution of cosmic rays as well as for simulating the physical and chemical evolution of matter. Future plans include implementing new functionality in the '' DUSTEM'' software package such as dealing with polarization and spinning dust, and in the software package '' CASSIS'' such as new radiation transfer codes in gas lines, and the development of new code dealing with the physical and chemical evolution of PAH molecules.
  • The development of a platform for laboratory astrophysics in order to perform studies on interstellar dust analogues in order to tackle obervational problems :  PIRENEA for the study of the physical and chemical properties of macromolecules and carbonaceous nanograins and ESPOIRS for the spectroscopy of cold dust grains. This platform would constitute one of the experimental platforms of the OMP and it is supported nationally by the PN PCMI. It includes strong collaborations with the physical chemists of the University of Toulouse (IRSAMC : LCPQ, LPCNO et LCAR).
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