25-03-2012 Dit minicollege van Ewine van Dishoeck, hoogleraar moleculaire astrofysica aan de Universiteit Leiden, is de derde bijdrage in een serie van acht speciale minicolleges van de Akademiehoogleraren. Hiermee wil de KNAW speciale aandacht geven aan deze bijzondere groep hoogleraren en hun onderzoek.
Ewine van Dishoeck
Building molecules, stars, planets between the stars
One of the most exciting developments in astronomy is the discovery of planets around stars other than our Sun. Nearly 1000 exo-planets have now been detected. But how do these planets form, and why are they so different from our own solar system? Which ingredients are available to build them? Thanks to powerful new telescopes, including the Herschel Space Observatory, astronomers are starting to address these age-old questions scientifically. In this talk, an overview will be given of how stars and planets are born in the extremely cold and tenuous clouds between the stars in the Milky Way. These clouds also contain water and a surprisingly rich variety of organic material. How and where was the water formed that is now in our oceans on Earth? Can these organic molecules end up on new planets and form the basis for pre-biotic material? The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), under construction in Chile and planned to be fully operational by late 2013, will be able to zoom into the planet-forming zones of disks around young stars and revolutionize this field in the near future.