MOlecules as Probes of the Physics of EXternal galaxies is a 5 years project funded by an Advanced Research Grant from the EU (Grant agreement ID: 833460). The ultimate objective is to fundamentally change the way molecular observations are interpreted for external galaxies and thus to cause a paradigm shift in the use of molecules as tools to determine the chemistry and physics of galaxies.
Molecules pervade the cooler, denser parts of our Universe, in particular the reservoirs of the matter that forms stars and planets, and the gas in the centres of galaxies. In the Milky Way we routinely use molecules to discover and explore these regions and the more complex the chemistry, the more details of the gas the molecules reveal. There are one hundred billion galaxies in the observable Universe. About 200 or so are our neighbours. However, due to their distance, we are still not able to zoom in and observe individual clouds of dense gas. Nevertheless with the advent of ever more sensitive telescopes such as ALMA, we are discovering that chemistry in external galaxies is as complex as in our own Milky Way. Molecules, it seems, are universal and widespread.
Our team uses molecules to shed light on the physical processes and chemical structure of our local galaxies, namely
- The energetic processes determine their appearance
- The distribution of the matter that will form stars or fuels black holes
Our ultimate goal is to understand how galaxies form, evolve and interact with each other. To achieve this objective we perform a multi-faceted program that combines state of the art chemical and statistical models in conjunction with interferometric observations.
The people working on MOPPEX, our science projecs and the software we've produced can be found by following the links at the top of the page. The MOPPEX grant is held by Serena Viti at Leiden Observatory and as such many of the people working in that group are working on MOPPEX. You can see more of the wider group's work at our website.