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The chemical trail in protostars: From the deeply embedded phase to the planet forming disk

Project description

Investigating the chemical composition of protostars

Very young stars, also called protostars, form in clouds of gas and dust in the universe. Observations show that Class 0 protostars harbour a rich chemistry in their inner regions. The phenomena that take place between this early stage of star formation and planet, comet and asteroid formation are unknown. Do the molecules detected in young protostars survive, or are they destroyed and reformed at a later stage before being transferred into planets, comets and asteroids? The EU-funded Chemtrip project aims to enhance our understanding of how the chemical composition evolves from the deeply embedded protostellar stage to the planet-forming disc stage by combining multi-source analyses from high-angular resolution observations with chemical modelling.


The emergence of Life relied on the presence of key molecules like water and prebiotic molecules. The primitive objects of our Solar System (comets, asteroids), which formed in the disk of dust and gas surrounding the young Sun, are thought to have delivered them to Earth during heavy bombardments. Observations show that the deeply embedded Class 0 protostars also harbour a very rich chemistry in their inner regions. What occurs to the chemical composition between this early stage of the star formation process and the formation of planets, comets, and asteroids is unknown. Do the molecules detected in these young protostars survive or are they destroyed and reformed at a later stage before being incorporated into planets, comets, and asteroids?
This ERC project aims to reconstruct the physico-chemical evolution from the deeply embedded protostellar stage to the planet forming disk stage, through multi-source analyses of high angular resolution observations combined with chemical modeling studies.
I will investigate the evolution of complex organic chemistry and isotopic fractionation during the star formation process using interferometric observations (ALMA, NOEMA) of solar-type protostars. In addition, I will carry out numerical simulations with a state-of-the-art gas-grain chemistry code in order to interpret the observations as well as to characterize the impact of the physical conditions and their evolution (environment, grain growth and dust settling, episodic accretion) on the chemistry.
This ERC project will lead to a new understanding of the evolution of the chemical composition from the earliest protostellar stage to the formation of the disk that will give birth to the planets, comets, and asteroids, while identifying the processes affecting the final composition of the disk. The observational work will require the development of innovative tools of interest for the astrochemical community that I will release publicly.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 421 408,75
31062 Toulouse Cedex 9

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Occitanie Midi-Pyrénées Haute-Garonne
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 499 995,00

Beneficiaries (2)