AAS 206th Meeting, 29 May - 2 June 2005
Session 31 Highlights in Laboratory Astrophysics
Topical Session, Wednesday, 8:30-10:00am, 10:45am-12:30pm, 2:30-4:00pm, 4:15-6:00pm, June 1, 2005, 102 D

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[31.14] Millimeter and Sub-Millimeter Spectroscopy: The Impact for Astronomy and Astrophysics

L. M. Ziurys (The University of Arizona)

One of the major surprises in astronomy over the past 30 years has been the discovery of interstellar molecules. To date, over 125 different chemical species have been observed in interstellar and circumstellar gas, ranging from simple diatomic radicals like CN to complex organic compounds such as glycolaldehyde, CHOCH2OH. The detection of such species and their use as physical probes has led to a far better understanding of the dense interstellar medium; it has also spawned the new chemical field of astrochemistry. Crucial to the study of interstellar molecules has been high resolution, gas-phase spectroscopy, particularly in the millimeter and sub-millimeter regions. Laboratory measurements of pure rotational transitions in these wavelength regimes have provided the necessary 'fingerprints' by which molecules can be accurately identified and studied in the ISM. With the advent of NASA missions such as Herschel, SAFIR, and SOFIA, these data will be particularly critical in the sub-millimeter region, where previous observations are sparse because of atmospheric obscuration. Several groups have been actively involved in recording the spectra of potential interstellar species, ranging from unusual carbon radicals to stable organic species with internal motions. Studies in the Ziurys lab have focused on small molecules containing a cosmically abundant metal, in the chemist's sense, such as magnesium, aluminum, titanium, and iron. Recently, this research has included metal hydrides (neutral and ionic: AlH, CrH, SH+) and metal-bearing molecular ions (TiCl+ and VCl+). The results of these investigations, as well as those obtained from other groups, will be presented. Their importance for astronomy, and ongoing NASA missions, will be discussed.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #2
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.