The Heriot-Watt Astrochemistry Research Group

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The regions of space between the stars are commonly known as the Interstellar Medium (ISM). In some regions of the interstellar medium giant clouds of gas and dust agglomerate together, and it is here that new stars and planetary systems are forming. Most of these 'clouds' are only visible because they obscure the background starlight from reaching the Earth. The chemical and physical processes that govern the star formation in these clouds are very poorly understood, and it has become clear over the last decade that gas-phase schemes alone cannot account for the variety and richness of chemistry that is occurring in the interstellar medium. Consequently, gas-dust interactions must also play a key role, so we have constructed an experiment to simulate the harsh interstellar conditions and investigate the gas-dust interactions that are occurring there.

The images below show the two ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) chambers we are using for these experiments. Clicking on these will open a larger view in a new browser tab.
The astrophysical "ice" chamber with dual atomic beam system

The molecular "beam" surface science chamber, currently being used for higher temperature astrochemistry experiments

These Pages were last updated by Demian Marchione (email: on 26/03/2014