The launch of the
Herschel Space Telescope in 2009 has opened new windows onto the Molecular Universe.
Herschel is featuring the highest-ever angular and spectral resolution in the far-infrared in order to study
cool objects across the Universe: in particular the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies,
and their relationship. Moreover, over the next years, ALMA
will open up the universe to high spatial and spectral resolution studies at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths. This will allow us to
study, in much greater detail, the composition, origin and evolution of molecules in space and promises
to boost our view of the dynamics and the physical and chemical conditions in a wide range of objects
at scales ranging from budding planetary systems to galactic and extragalactic sizes. The preparation for
this new era of precission core studies is a clear goal for the Spanish community, and it requires prompt
action to combine new tools of radiative transfer modelling with state of the art determinations of
the relevant molecular parameters and key chemical reactions.
Several groups in Spain can perform detailed laboratory experiments and ab initio calculations that will be
highly profitable for Molecular Astrophysics. The 2nd National Conference on Laboratory and Molecular Astrophysics,
to be held in Sevilla on November 14-16, will encompass Astronomy, Physics, and Chemistry to deal with the extraordinary
challenges the spanish community must face in the upcoming years. The detection of many thousands of new spectral features
with the ALMA observatory, their identification, analysis and interpretation in terms of the physical and chemical
characteristics of the astronomical sources will require detailed astronomical modelling tools supported by laboratory
measurements and theoretical studies of chemical reactions and collisional excitation rates on species of astrophysical
relevance. These tasks must also be supported with the income of new instrumental developments in the Chemical-Physics
Laboratories that will grant access to a series of experiments whose results will be most relevant for the interpretation
and analysis of the data obtained with Herschel and ALMA.
The key topics that will be addressed at this 2nd National Conference on Laboratory and Molecular Astrophysics are:
- Water vapour in the Universe
- Carbon, nitrogen and oxygen chemistry
- Deuterated molecules
- Chemical complexity
- Molecular ionisation and photodissociation
- Molecular tracers of shocks
- Interstellar dust grain chemistry
- Development of new techniques and instrumentation
- Laboratory measurements and spectroscopic characterisation of molecules
- Development of radiative transfer codes
- Development of new ab initio and dynamical methods
This conference is partially funded through the Consolider-Ingenio project 'Molecular Astrophysics: the Herschel and ALMA era' (ASTROMOL,
Ref.: CSD2009-00038) under the Spanish Programa Consolider-Ingenio 2010 (Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación).
In summary, this conference will cover the entire
field of astrochemistry in order to make investigators from Spain
aware of the many new advances of the last years, and to acquaint them
with the explosive growth in the subject to be coming in the next few
years in the ALMA era.