Probing star formation in the Universe with carbonaceous molecules

Supervisor: Dr. Els Peeters

Can extend to MSc?:  Yes

Project Description (Abstract):

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) are complex organic molecules made of carbon and hydrogen. They are extremely abundant, and shine brightly in the infrared, often dominating the infrared emission of entire galaxies (see red color in image). PAHs efficiently convert UV radiation from young massive stars into their bright infrared emission bands. Therefore, their usefulness as a tracer, i.e., quantitative indicator, of star formation is currently explored, potentially allowing the determination of star formation rates for a large number of galaxies. The global star formation history of the Universe is one of the key indicators for understanding the evolution of galaxies as a whole, and for discriminating among different formation scenarios.


For this project, you will characterize the properties of PAH emission in a nearby galaxy. You will investigate the spatial variability within the galaxy and compare these properties with star forming regions in both our Milky Way and nearby galaxies. These results will contribute to the ultimate aim: to develop PAH emission as a tracer for star formation in the Universe.

Other projects on PAH emission in space (both galactic and extragalactic environments) are also available.

Published on  and maintained in Cascade CMS.