Spiers Memorial Lecture: Astrochemistry at high resolution

Eleonora Bianchi, Sandra Brünken, Cecilia Ceccarelli, Martin Cordiner, Athena Flint, Robin T. Garrod, Murthy S. Gudipati, Divita Gupta, Dwayne E. Heard, Eric Herbst, Ko-Yun Huang, Inga Kamp, Jialu Li, Nikku Madhusudhan, Rafael M. Domenech, Martin R. S. McCoustra, Meijer Meijer, Stefanie Milam, Tom J. Millar, Karolina PlakitinaIan Sims, Ewine F. van Dishoeck, Serena Viti, Nicholas Walker, Laurent Wiesenfeld , Olivia H. Wilkins

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


Astrochemistry is the science that studies the chemistry in the Universe, namely the combination of two fields: astronomy and chemistry. It started about fifty years ago and it has progressed in leaps and bounds, often triggered by the advent of new telescopes. From the collection of new interstellar molecule detections, astrochemistry has evolved more and more in the quest to understand how they are formed and thrive in the harsh conditions of the interstellar medium. Collaboration between astronomers and chemists has never been more necessary than today, when new powerful astronomical facilities provide us with ever sharper images of the regions where interstellar molecules are present. This review focuses on the special case of interstellar complex organic molecules (iCOMs), one the most debated astrochemical fields and where the astronomers-chemists collaboration and synergy is indispensable. The review will go through the various phases of the formation of planetary system similar to the solar system, providing the most recent observational picture at each step. The current scenarios of the iCOMs formation will be laid down and the critical chemical processes and quantities involved in each of them will be discussed. The major goal of this review is not only to present the progress but, more importantly, to highlight the many areas of uncertainty. A few specific cases will be discussed to give practical examples of why the huge challenge that represents the formation of iCOMs can only be won if chemists and astronomers work together.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-220
Number of pages221
JournalFaraday Discussions
Early online date1 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2023


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