Complex molecules: from molecular clouds to protoplanetary disks
Junior Research Chair, IPAG / OSUG
One of the most important questions in molecular astrophysics is how, when, and where complex organic molecules, COMs (> 5-6 atoms) are formed. In the Interstellar-Earth connection context, could this have a bearing on the origin of life on Earth? Formation mechanisms of COMs are still debated and may include grain mantle and/or gas-phase chemistry. Understanding the mechanisms that lead to the interstellar molecular complexification, along with the involved physico-chemical processes, is mandatory to answer the above questions. In that context, active researches are on going on in theory, laboratory experiments, chemical modelling and observations. Thanks to recent progress in radioastronomy instrumentation for both single-dish and millimeter arrays (e.g. Herschel, NOEMA, ALMA), new results have been obtained. In that light, I will present some notable results on the detection of COMs, such as methyl formate, glycolaldehyde (pre-sugar) and formic acid (the simplest organic acid), towards star forming regions and protoplanetary disks.
Image : © ESO, ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Favre et al. (2018, ApJL, 862, L2)