I am an astrochemist. My research project aims to understand the origins of the chemical complexity observed in our Solar System by investigating the molecular content of young protoplanetary disks
Chemical processes taking place during the early protostellar phases strongly affect the final chemical composition of a forming planetary system. Indeed, while close to the protostar a chemical reset is expected, in the outer protostellar disk regions a consistent part of the molecular complexity is expected to be inherited from the early stages. The complex molecules formed in the disk are thus incorporated in planetesimals and planets, possibly triggering a more complex chemistry of prebiotic compounds.
The origins of our Solar System and extrasolar planetary systems is one of the most important open questions in modern astrophysics. Our understanding of how a star and a planetary system form has evolved substantially in the latest years. Recent observations suggest that the first planetesimals start to form very early in a disk of gas and dust around the newborn star. Since young disks are typically deeply embedded in the parent envelope, the characterisation of their physical and chemical properties is not trivial from an observational point of view.