Research in the Interstellar Medium

Studying the chemical makeup of the interstellar medium is my primary research focus. From the physical locations of individual species relative to each other and to the continuum can give insight into their formation processes. Species that are seen to have a wide distribution are most likely formed in a gas phase reaction, while those only seen in the hot dense cores of star forming regions may come from either high temperature gas phase reaction or they may form on the surface of interstellar dust grains.

By studying a wide variety of molecules (such as methanol [CH3OH], ethanol [C2H5OH], ethyl cyanide [C2H5CN], methyl formate [HCOOCH3], dimethyl ether [(CH3)2O] and acetone [(CH3)2CO]) in a large number of differing environments (such as comets, low mass star forming regions, high mass star forming regions, and Herbig-Haro objects) one can get a fuller understanding of astrochemical processes.

My thesis work involved spectral line surveys of Sagittarius B2(N-LMH) and Orion-KL, two high mass star forming regions. These studies showed that a large percentage (~30%) of the spectral line observed cannot be identified with the current catalogs. Most of these lines are likely to be vibrationally excited transitions of well known species which have not been fully studied in the lab, however some of them will be from previously unknown species in the ISM.