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Research center to free chemistry from Earth's bonds
Date:10/8/2008

s the giant Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, which has been used to discover ten new interstellar molecules in the past three years, a record unmatched by any other telescope. The NRAO also is the North American partner in the international Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) project. ALMA is expected to provide an unprecedented ability to study interstellar chemistry when it goes online in 2012.

"A central theme of chemistry is to understand how chemical reactions work. Most of our current knowledge of how molecules are formed came from laboratory experiments with solutions. However, in interstellar space, reactions occur in gases and on surfaces, such as on tiny cosmic dust grains. We're going to focus on studying these poorly-understood processes, and thus break chemistry out of our Earth-bound constraints," said Philip Jewell, Deputy Director of the NRAO, and one of the team members.

"The combination of experimentalists, theoreticians and radio-telescope observers will allow quick feedback and testing of new ideas and better understanding of what we see in our own and other galaxies," said Anthony Remijan of the NRAO.

The new center also will pursue an extensive educational effort, including student programs, new courses at UVa, and displays and outreach activities at the NRAO's Green Bank Science Center and other museums.


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Contact: Dave Finley
dfinley@nrao.edu
575-835-7302
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Source:Eurekalert

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