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MOlecules as Probes of the Physics of EXternal galaxies

Project description

Deciphering the chemistry and physics of neighbouring galaxies

Molecules pervade the cooler, denser parts of our universe, in particular the reservoirs of the matter that helps form stars and planets, and the gas in the galaxy centres. Although there are approximately 200 galaxies close to the Milky Way, researchers are still unable to observe individual dense gas clouds. The advent of increasingly sensitive telescopes has revealed that the chemistry of our galaxy neighbours is as complex as the Milky Way’s. The EU-funded MOPPEX project aims to shed light on the physical and chemical structure of nearby galaxies. In particular, it plans to determine the energetic processes that shape their appearance and identify the origin of matter that helps form stars or fuels black holes.

Objective

Molecules pervade the cooler, denser parts of our Universe, in particular the reservoirs of the matter that forms stars and planets, and the gas in the centres of galaxies. In the Milky Way we routinely use molecules to discover and explore these regions and the more complex the chemistry, the more details of the gas the molecules reveal. There are one hundred billion galaxies in the observable Universe. About 200 or so are our neighbours. However, due to their distance, we are still not able to zoom in and observe individual clouds of dense gas. Nevertheless with the advent of ever more sensitive telescopes such as ALMA, we are discovering that chemistry in external galaxies is as complex as in our own Milky Way. Molecules, it seems, are universal and widespread.

In MOPPEX I use molecules to shed light on the physical and chemical structure of our local galaxies, namely (i) what the energetic processes that determine their appearance are and (ii) where the matter that will form stars or fuels black holes is, with the ultimate goal to understand how galaxies form, evolve and interact with each other. To achieve this objective I propose a multi-faceted program that combines state of the art chemical and statistical models in conjunction with interferometric observations. More specifically, the success of MOPPEX relies on (i) in-house and open source suites of chemical models and an in-house line radiative transfer model, (ii) a new suite of tools comprising of modular statistical and machine learning algorithms, and (iii) large datasets of observational data on two nearby galaxies differing in types.

My ultimate objective is to fundamentally change the way molecular observations are interpreted for external galaxies and thus to cause a paradigm shift in the use of molecules as tools to determine the chemistry and physics of galaxies.

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Coordinator

UNIVERSITEIT LEIDEN
Net EU contribution
€ 2 461 503,00
Address
Rapenburg 70
2311 EZ Leiden
Netherlands

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Region
West-Nederland Zuid-Holland Agglomeratie Leiden en Bollenstreek
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (2)