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FELIX research on astrochemical molecules on cover PCCP

Together with researchers from accelerator centre DESY (Hamburg) and Bonn University, FELIX researchers Anouk Rijs and Sander Lemmens investigated the complexation of molecules detected in interstellar regions, the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) acenaphthene.

Using mass spectrometry and free electron laser FELIX, they detected, selected and investigated acenaphthene complexes of different sizes. Studies like this are very much appreciated by astronomers, as they have to interpret spectra of distant stellar objects. Astrochemists believe that PAHs formed our stars and planets. However, no direct detection of PAHs or their (microhydrated) complexes in interstellar space has been achieved as of yet. For that reason measurements performed in laboratories are of great help.

anouk en sander

With their research they made the cover of the Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics journal theme collection: challenges in spectroscopy: accuracy vs interpretation from isolated molecules to condensed phases. The cover illustration shows how astrochemical molecules cluster with water and eventually form stars and planets like the earth. It can also be seen as the earth's atmosphere where microhydration of aerosols is at the heart of cloud formation.

Alexander K. Lemmens, Sebastien Gruet, Amanda L. Steber, Jens Antony , Stefan Grimme , Melanie Schnell and Anouk M. Rijs,  Far-IR and UV spectral signatures of controlled complexation and microhydration of the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon acenaphthene, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2019, 21, 3414

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Anouk Rijs