Astrochemistry deals with the study of large scale chemical elements (sometimes, even larger than that of our Solar System) that are found in outer space, especially in the molecular gas clouds, which includes the study of their formation, interaction and the destruction. Astrochemistry is a juxtaposition of the disciplines of chemistry and astronomy.
Astrochemistry uses the apparatus of the telescope for measuring the aspects like temperature and composition of the bodies in space. Astrochemistry deals with studying the abundance and reactions of the molecules along with the chemical elements in the universe with reference to their interaction with radiation.
Cosmochemistry is when the abundance of elements and the isotope ratios is in Solar system objects like meteorites. Molecular astrophysics is when the study is of the interstellar molecules, atoms along with their reaction to radiation.
The area of special interest is the formation, evolution, composition (both, atomic an chemical) and the fate of the molecular gas clouds since solar systems are formed as result of these clouds.
HISTORY OF ASTROCHEMISTRY
Even though in 1930, radio astronomy had developed, it wasn’t until 1937 that there was any evidence that could be used for identifying an interstellar molecule. The only known existing chemical species in the interstellar space where the atomic ones. In 1940, McKellar et al used the spectroscopic lines to observe molecules in interstellar space. The first organic, polyatomic molecule that was observed in the interstellar space was H2CO in 1969.
USES OF ASTROCHEMISTRY
- The outcome from using the spectroscopy in chemistry labs helped in the determination of the types of molecules present in the astronomical bodies like an interstellar cloud or a star.
- In their own spectra, the molecules reveal their characteristics and help in giving a unique spectral representation that corresponded to a molecule.
- Electromagnetic interference results in some limitations in the measurements. Some chemical properties of few molecules can also pose a problem in measurement. For example, the lack of dipole movement in hydrogen gas proves to be a problem and hence it cannot be detected by using radio telescopes.
- More than a hundred molecules were identified. It includes radicals, ions, a wide range of organic compounds.
- Astrochemistry is a blend of astrophysics and nuclear physics for characterising nuclear reaction that occurs in stars and the stellar generations. It includes study of consequences that arise due to stellar evolution.