ESR #4 PAHs and the organic inventory of meteorites and comets
Host Institute: Leiden Observatory, Leiden University Host Country: The Netherlands
Start date: No later than summer of 2017
The candidate will be employed at the Leiden Observatory and will read for a doctorate degree under the supervision of prof. Xander Tielens.
Carbonaceous meteorites and comets show a varied organic composition which is thought to reflect, at least partly, a heritage that dates back to interstellar clouds. However, a variety of processes on the parent asteroidal body and the comet will have modified any inherited material, including thermal processing in an aqueous or icy environment as well as processing by energetic ions and photons in the presence of nanograins. PAHs are one key component in the interstellar medium. The graduate student will develop models for the chemical evolution of PAHs in an aqueous environment and apply this to asteroids in the early solar system as well as for the photochemical evolution of ices and apply this to comets in the early solar system. He/she will identify chemical markers for these processes, make predictions for ALMA and JWST observations, and assess the astronomical implications by comparison to meteoritic and cometary composition.
As part of the study, secondments are foreseen to Heriot Watt University to study the characteristics of functionalized PAHs in ices, to Aarhus University to study the stability and catalytic activity of functionalized PAHs and to Graphic Science for the outreach project and travelling exposition development.