Unravelling the Role of Ice in Star and Planet Formation

Wed 6 Nov 2019

Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)
3700 San Martin Drive
Baltimore, MD 21218


2:45 PM - 4:00 PM

Contact Information:

Have questions? Please contact David Nataf.


With this seminar I hope to take you on a tour de force from what you think you know about ice in space, to what we have learned through a decade of laboratory and observational astrochemistry. Why? After H2, H2O is the most abundant molecule in space. Vital (as far as we know) to life, the quest to understand the universal life cycle of water has occupied observations of star- and planet- formation for the past two decades - the 'holy grail' being to link water formation and evolution in space to its role in the emergence of life. Yet the majority of "space" H2O is in condensed form; a molecular "ice" - much harder to observe, and even more difficult to test its distribution as it can only be observed in absorption against a bright background source. Our group have pioneered slitless spectroscopy methods to map interstellar ices in pre-stellar cores with AKARI - and are now applying these methods to archival VLT and Spitzer data. With the prospect of JWST the power of ice mapping is most apparent when combined with gas- and dust- maps.  By combining the findings of our observations with laboratory studies of ices, we are beginning to understand where icy particles aggregate and how that process occurs, to see where ice chemistry leads to COM formation (and where it does not), and most importantly, map solid-state chemistries on scales that are at least commensurate with single dish observations, holding the key to unlocking chemical diversity in star- and planet- forming regions.

Speaker: Helen Fraser (The Open University)


All 2019 Fall Colloquia talks are held on Wednesdays in the STScI John N. Bahcall Auditorium at 3:00 p.m. preceded by tea at 2:45 p.m.

Please direct questions or comments to the contact above. The 2019-20 committee members are Paule Sonnentrucker (STScI Chair), Annalisa Calamida (STScI), Will Fischer (STScI), Ethan Vishniac (JHU Co-chair), Kevin Schlaufman (JHU), and Graeme Addison (JHU).