University of Connecticut

Events Calendar

Astronomy Seminar

Wednesday, September 19, 2018
2:00pm – 3:00pm

Storrs Campus
Gant West 121

Jennifer Bergner, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Harvard University

Chemical complexity during star and planet formation: new observational and laboratory insights

Planets form by accreting material from a protoplanetary disk, meaning that the inventory of molecules in the disk sets what subsequent chemistry can occur on a newly formed planet. Constraining the organic chemistry in disks and their precursors is therefore key to origins of life studies. I will discuss recent progress in detecting and characterizing simple (HCN and C2H) and complex (CH3CN and HC3N) organic molecules in protoplanetary disks using ALMA, as well as implications for the chemistry at play. As we are sensitivity-limited in the level of molecular complexity that can be detected in disks, observations of organic molecules around low-mass protostars are providing important windows into the initial chemical conditions of disk and planet formation. To complement these observational approaches, we use laboratory experiments to understand how reactions proceed under conditions of low temperature and low pressure. I will outline our recent work exploring new pathways to chemical complexity in laboratory analogs of astrophysical ices.

About the speaker: Jennifer Bergner is a graduate student in (Astro)Chemistry at Harvard working with Prof. Karin Oberg at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She is a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow and specializes in laboratory astrochemistry, focused on the physics and chemistry of interstellar ice analogs.


Prof. C. Battersby

Physics Department (primary)

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