NWO selects twelve research projects for funding in the Dutch Astrochemistry Network II program

THE HAGUE, 26-Jan-2017 — /EuropaWire/ — The NWO Board of Physical Sciences has decided to invest 2.5 million euros in Astrochemistry research. Twelve interdisciplinary research projects have been selected for funding in the Dutch Astrochemistry Network II program (DAN II). DAN II is a highly interdisciplinary network combining the astronomical and chemical expertise in the Netherlands with the goal of understanding the origin and evolution of molecules in space and their role in the Universe.

The Dutch Astrochemistry Network (DAN) is a highly interdisciplinary network combining the astronomical and chemical expertise in the Netherlands with the goal of understanding the origin and evolution of molecules in space and their role in the Universe. From 2010-2015, DAN was funded by NWO as an integrated and coherent program of astrochemical and astrophysical experiments, quantum chemical calculations, and laboratory spectroscopy of astronomically relevant species in combination with an active program on modeling and observations of astronomical sources. Following an external review and excellent assessment in December 2014, NWO Physical Sciences decided to continue the program.

The successor of DAN, DAN II, focuses on three major astrochemical themes where Dutch astronomy and chemistry have particular strong expertise and experience as well as access to unique observational or experimental facilities. The three themes are 1) The Gaseous Molecular Universe where formation and destruction as well as the excitation of simple molecules are studied; 2) The Icy Universe where the role of ices is studied in the origin of molecular complexity in the Universe; 3) The Aromatic Universe, which studies the contribution of aromatic species to the molecular inventory and their evolution in space. The three themes are complementary with projects addressing common science questions from different perspectives including the photostability of small and large hydrocarbons and their reaction products, the interaction of water with grains and with PAHs, and photodissociation in the gas phase and in ice environments.

The science of this network is highly interdisciplinary and the key to success resides in a high degree of collaboration. Therefore the science program will be complemented by formal and informal networking activities. In addition, the network will coordinate and integrate its activities with national and international groups active in molecular astrophysics. At the national level, this includes the NWO Planetary and (Exo-) Planetary Science program, PEPSci. At the international level, joint activities with the Astrochemistry Laboratory at NASA ARC will be developed, as agreed between NASA and NWO in the Space Act that was concluded in July 2016.

Twelve research projects have been selected for funding:

Theme 1: The Gaseous Molecular Universe

Photo-absorption and dissociation of CH and carbon-based radicals – Prof.dr. W.M.G. Ubachs, VU

Protostellar and protoplanetary disk chemistry: from basic data to astrochemical models – Prof.dr. E.F. van Dishoeck, UL

Rotation-vibration inelastic collision rates of polyatomic molecules –
Prof.dr.ir. G.C. Groenenboom, RUN

It takes two to tango: bi-molecular (half) collisions of astrochemical relevance – Prof.dr. D.H. Parker, RUN

Theme 2: The Icy Universe

Circumstellar ice and snow lines – Photochemistry at the edge – Dr. M.R. Hogerheijde, UL

Molecular complexity in interstellar ices – a combined experimental / theoretical study – Prof.dr. H.V.J. Linnartz, UL

Mobility and restructuring in interstellar ices – Dr. H.M. Cuppen, RUN

Velocity Map Imaging at Icy Surfaces – Prof.dr. D.H. Parker, RUN

Theme 3: The Aromatic Universe

High-resolution vibrational and electronic spectroscopy of the isolated aromatic universe – Prof.dr. W.J. Buma, UvA

Reactions of PAHs: a route to chemically complex molecules? – Prof.dr. F.M. Bickelhaupt, VU

Photo-processing, reactivity and spectroscopic characteristics of large PAHs and their derivatives – Prof.dr. J. Oomens, RUN, en prof.dr. A.G.G.M. Tielens, UL

The Reaction Dynamics of Ionic and Neutral PAHs – Dr.ir. A. Petrignani, UvA

SOURCE: NWO

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