Louis Allamandola on “Astronomical PAHs: from Spitzer to Herschel and Beyond”

  • Lou gave an invited talk entitled “Astronomical PAHs- from Spitzer to Herschel and Beyond” which was very well received and stimulated a lot of discussion.
  • Lou has just completed the last of his three separate, two-month research visits to the ‘Sackler Laboratory for Astrophysics’ at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Working with Prof. H. Linnartz and graduate student J. Bouwman, Dr. Allamandola explored a new research area on PAH cosmic ice processes combining the unique experimental capabilities in the Sackler Laboratory with his expertise in astronomical polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

While in Leiden they studied the UV induced processes of the PAH pyrene in cometary and interstellar ice analogs. The results have been remarkable. They showed there are two quite distinct reaction channels possible in these cosmic ice analogs, one controlled by the PAH ionization process and the unique reactions only charged species induce, and one involving the more normal organic photochemistry of neutral radicals. The temperature at which the ice is irradiated determines which path is followed. A paper describing the initial results will be published in the Astrophysical Journal in July, and two additional follow-up articles are now in preparation. Based on these new results, a proposal was submitted to the Very Large Telescope (VLT) and we received telescope time. The data are now coming in and will be analyzed over the summer. In addition to this work, Mr. Bouwman will spend two months working in the Astrochemistry Laboratory at NASA Ames Research Center in the fall of 2009.

  • Lou A. attended the opening of a new exhibit at the NEMO Museum in Amsterdam dedicated to Astrobiology. This museum is similar to the Exploratorium in San Francsico, a hands on “Fun with Science” museum.

During the past two months Dr. Allamandola presented the following invited talks:

May 7 “Astronomical Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons:Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”, presented to the Free Electron Laser Facility Molecular physics group, (FOM Institute) Rijnhuizen, The Netherlands.

May 22 “From Astrochemistry to Astrobiology” presented to the research staff at the ‘Center For Astrobiology’ (Centro de Astrobiologica), Madrid, Spain.

May 27 “Is Astrochemistry really Astrobiology?” Presented seminar and lead discussion on this topic at The Leiden University Observatory, The Netherlands.

June 9 “Astronomical PAHs- From Spitzer to Herschel and Beyond” presented as part of the ‘Laboratory Astrophysics Meeting’ at the 214 Meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Pasadena, California.