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MSRAL 2006 Convention

SLAS Regular Meeting
Friday, December 18, 2009
McDonnell Hall, Washington University

Searching for Our Origins: Organic Molecules in Young Star Systems


Dr. Erika Gibb, Assistant Professor
Department of Physics & Astronomy
University of Missouri - St. Louis

How did we get here? Models of the formation of the solar system imply that the early Earth would have been devoid of water and the organic molecules important for the origin of life. So how did our system receive the necessary ingredients for life? Where were these ingredients located and how were they formed? I use infrared spectroscopy to study simple organic molecules in disks around young stars. Only recently have our telescopes and instruments had the sensitivity to detect prebiotic molecules in disks around forming stellar systems outside our own. I will show recent results of our first detections of such molecules and discuss how these new results tie in to comets in our solar system. I will also discuss some of the many questions that we have yet to answer in our search for how the molecules necessary for life were formed and delivered to Earth.

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