This Week’s Discoveries | 30 October 2018
- Karin Öberg
- Tuesday 30 October 2018
Niels Bohrweg 2
2333 CA Leiden
- De Sitterzaal
Lecture, Lorentz Center Highlight
Making habitable worlds and the chemistry of planet formation
Karin Öberg (Harvard University)
Karin is professor of Astronomy at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge. Her Astrochemistry group explores the origins of chemical complexity in space and how these processes affect star and planet formation and especially the bulk and organic compositions of young planets. She also investigates the inverse processes, i.e. how the chemistry is affected by different astrophysical processes and how spatially and spectrally resolved observations of molecular lines can be used to probe star and planet formation. The research comprises laboratory experiments, aimed at simulating the chemistry and physics of interstellar grain mantles, radio and infrared observations (often at high spatial resolution), and astrochemical theory.
Karin is one of the organizers of the workshop “A Roadmap for Universal Life” that is being held in the Lorentz Center from 29 Oct 2018 through 2 Nov 2018.
The past decades have revealed that planets are incredibly common in our Galaxy. Among this wealth of exoplanets there is an especially interesting subset: temperate, rocky planets that may be suitable for life. What are the likelihood that such planets contain water and the building blocks of a life, i.e. that they are chemically habitable? These questions can be addressed by considering the chemical environment within which planets assemble. Planets assemble in disks of dust and gas around young stars. Thanks to the arrival of new telescopes we can directly observe these disks, catching planet formation in action, and map out the chemistry that characterizes them. I will present some of our latest discoveries, and what they teach us about the chemical habitability of mature planetary systems.