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Special Astrophysics Seminar

The Chemistry of Planet Formation: From Spitzer to the Origins Space Telescope
Presented by Klaus Pontoppidan
Space Telescope Science Institute

Tuesday, August 28, 2018
1:00 P.M. in 169-336

Abstract
The origins of the elemental carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen that form life can be traced back to a massive reservoir of prestellar ices, which accretes onto planet-forming disks before they take part in the formation of planetesimals and ultimately planetary atmospheres. Their chemical evolution determines the compositions of planets, including those destined to orbit in a habitable zone. Yet the path from the interstellar medium to planets is one fraught with complexity and twists, making it difficult to derive precise theoretical predictions for planetary chemistry. In the past decade, great progress has been made in observing protoplanetary chemistry, not least in measuring the molecular composition in protoplanetary disks. Molecular gas in the planet-forming region (<20 AU) is primarily probed in the near- to far-infrared, often using space-based infrared observatories. I will review the recent revolution in the observation and understanding of planet-forming chemistry beginning with Spitzer and ground-based high-resolution spectroscopy, and I will discuss the role the James Webb Space Telescope and the Origins Space Telescope will play in understanding our place in the Universe.

JPL Contact: If you would like to meet with the speaker, please contact Paul Goldsmith (3-0518).





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