Solid State Chemistry in Star Forming Regions

organised on behalf of the Astrophysical Chemistry Group of the Royal Society of Chemistry and Royal Astronomical Society

14 - 17 April 2003

Venue: Lorentz Center@Oort

If you are invited or already registered for this workshop, you have received login details by email.

This workshop aims to bring together two broad research communities whose research specialties can both be applied in enhancing our understanding of gas-grain processes in star forming regions, namely the astronomers working on observations and theoretical modelling of star forming regions, and the experimental and theoretical physical scientists working on surface reactions and processes.


Molecular species make up a tiny fraction of the total mass of our universe, yet they have a key role to play in determining the prevailing physical conditions. From the diffuse regions of the interstellar medium, to the dense, cold, dusty regions at the centre of protostellar disks, molecules are generated with ever increasing complexity. Some of these molecules are formed in gas phase reactions but others, even some of the simplest molecular species, e.g. H2, CO2, H2O, are known to form through surface catalysed processes. However, to fully elucidate the chemistry occurring on astrophysically relevant surfaces, it is also necessary for us to understand the physical behaviour of the surface itself. Basic data pertaining to these physical and chemical processes is relatively sparse in the literature, and where laboratory data does exist it is not widely known to the astronomical community unless it has been published in the astronomical literature. Measurements of sticking probabilities of species on astronomically relevant surfaces, reaction rates, and branching ratios of surface catalysed reactions, are required for astronomical models. From the chemistry viewpoint, a fuller understanding of the reaction mechanisms and desorption processes are required, so that we can start to evaluate and predict with some certainty, chemical processes that are both thermodynamically and kinetically viable over the timescales and range of conditions present in star forming regions.


Over the last few years more and more chemical physicists and physical chemists have recognized that laboratory astrophysics and its associated theoretical work have key contributions to make to these problems in astronomy. Similarly, astronomers are welcoming the results and findings from laboratory astrophysics, incorporating these basic science results into their models and interpretations of observations. Modern techniques in surface science are now being successfully applied in tackling some of the questions that surround heterogeneous chemistry in star forming regions. In the process further questions and concerns are raised within the astronomy community. This interdisciplinary approach that is being developed is to be commended. However, it brings with it many language and conceptual problems, especially since researchers from opposite fields place different emphases on the most significant focus of their research.

Through this workshop, it is envisaged that a greater understanding can be forged by both communities. The key needs of both communities will be addressed, and by inviting world-class researchers from astronomy and chemistry, we hope to further the dialogue between the two communities, perhaps introducing some researchers to the field for the first time. The ‘early’ morning sessions will consist of a series of plenary lectures covering the physical chemistry and astronomy principles that underpin this research field, and a review of the key findings and outstanding key requirements. The remainder of the workshop will be devoted to scientific discussions, highlighting these four major questions:

1.      Data Needs and Validation

2.      Physical attributes of gas-grain / gas-ice interactions in Star Forming Regions

3.      H2 Formation on Astronomically Relevant Surfaces

4.      Chemical reactions (not H2) on grain / ice surfaces

A number of key researchers from both the Chemistry and Astronomy fields have been invited to lecture and lead the discussions. Further details are available in the PROGRAMME.  By the end of the workshop we aim to identify a set of key questions for each community to address. Chemists will be provided with a list of major reactions, and molecules for which viable heterogeneous synthesis routes are required: astronomers will be provided with a set of ‘missing data requirements’ which will help narrow the currently broad span of possible laboratory experiments to more manageable level, stressing which kinds of experiments are applicable where.

WORKSHOP PARTICIPATION It is envisaged that the workshop will involve a maximum of 40 participants. Delegates will receive an official invitation to register, via the Lorentz Centre. All participants, including those invited to speak at the workshop, are requested to bring a POSTER with them, detailing their or their group’s recent work in one of the fields associated with Astrochemistry. Posters will be displayed all week, and a specific poster session on Tuesday evening will assist delegates in familiarizing themselves with the wide variety of work from various disciplines currently being undertaken in the field. YOUNG RESEARCHERS WORKSHOP PARTICIPATION

A large number of applicants were received and the standard of all applications was exceptional. Unfortunately we were only able to make 10 awards. Those are:

Arnd Barichter

Amandeep Bolina

Theiry Chiavassa

Mark Collings

Susan Creighan

Liv Hornekaer

Matt Redman

Tatiana Stantcheva

Floris van der Tak

Thomas Zecho

This workshop is organized on behalf of the Astrophysical Chemistry Group of the Royal Society of Chemistry and Royal Astronomical Society.


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