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Current Research Activities (only in english)

Current funding programs

  • National Agency for Research (ANR program HYDRIDES)
  • Insitut Universitaire de France
  • Labex OSUG@2020
  • National program for the physics and chemistry of the interstellar medium PCMI
  • National program of planetary science PNP
  • National program of high-energy astrophysics PNHE

Table of contents

Astrochimie Formation d'étoiles Collisions moléculaires Univers Froid


The Interstellar team is leading research programs devoted to the study of the chemical processes regulating the formation and evolution of molecular clouds and star forming regions. Several ambitious observational programs drive theoretical and modelling research that are developped in our team.

On-going large observational projects

  • SOLIS (Seeds of life in space) : an IRAM/NOEMA large program led by Paola Caselli (Max Planck Institut, Garching) and Cecilia Ceccarelli (IPAG).
  • ASAI (Astrochemical Surveys At Iram), an IRAM 30m Large Program, led by Rafael Bachiller (OAN/Spain) and Bertrand Lefloch (IPAG)
  • CHESS (Chemical HErschel Surveys of Star forming regions), an Herschel large program led by Cecilia Ceccarelli (IPAG).

Complex organic molecules (COMs) are an essential part of our activity. More detailed information may be found in dedicated websites (CHESS, FORCOMS) :

  • gas-phase synthesis of COMs
  • observations of COMs in cold cores
  • observations of COMs in star-forming regions
  • grain surface chemistry of COMs

Our activity includes other fundamental astrochemical, such as the chemistry of nitrogen in dark clouds, with special emphasis to the gas-phase synthesis of simple molecules. In particular, the role of nuclear-spin symmetry conservation during reactive collisions are applied from which we derive strong constraints on the overall chemical network. More information can be found here.

Post-doctorate :

  • Cécile Favre

PhD in progress

  • Victor de Souza Magalhaes, Nitrogen fractionation : from interstellar clouds to planetary systems (Jan. 2015-Dec 2017)
  • Ali Al Edhari, Gas-phase synthesis of organic complex molecules

PhD recently obtained

  • Romane Le Gal, Chemistry of nitrogen in dark clouds (obtained Dec. 2014)
  • Solenn Vaupré, Interaction of cosmic rays with molecular clouds (obtained Jul. 2015)

Molecular collisions

We have active research in the fields below :

  • Collisional excitation of interstellar molecules
  • Pressure broadening of molecular transitions
  • Potential energy surface expansion
  • Capture theories
  • Proton/deuteron scrambling reactions

Running program

Post-doc :

  • Fabien Daniel (HYDRIDES program, 2014-2016)

Databases :

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Star formation

During the star formation process, the physical conditions of the gas experiences dramatic variations. Outstanding issues in star formation research are related to the understanding of the evolution of these physical conditions. To this aim, observations of molecular tracers potentially allow to draw a three dimensional picture of such regions. However, to do so, one prerequisite is to know which species trace which parts of a star forming region. In fact, it is well established that some species freeze out at the surface of dust grains when the temperature decreases below some threshold. It is therefore crucial to model the chemical state of the gas as a function of time, whilst taking into account the evolution of the physical conditions. This is one of the most important current challenge in star formation study. Our team is developping models of star forming regions, by coupling state-of-the-art numerical simulations of collapsing cores with time-dependent chemical model.

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Cold Universe

At this time of precision Cosmology, several outstanding questions remain, among which : what is the Universe made of ? How do large scale structures form and evolve ? How did the Universe begin ? Our team is involved in several experimental projects that address these questions, among which the satellite Planck. Along with the entire data processing, our team is actively involved in the search for a specific pattern in the Cosmic Microwave Background polarization that would shed light on the first fractions of seconds of the Universe : the so called Inflation. We also have specific interest in galaxy clusters properties that we constrain in particular via the Sunyaev-Zeldovitch effect. This effect has been mapped to unprecedented precision and on the whole sky by Planck.

We are also involved in research and development of the next generation of sub-millimeter detectors, the Kinetic Inductance Detectors. They will be the basis of NIKA2, the next continuum camera with polarization capabilities that will be mounted on the IRAM 30m antenna at Pico Veleta (Spain). The instrument will consist of three focal planes of 2000 detectors, two of which operating at 1mm, one operating at 2mm.

Current projects :

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Sous la tutelle de:


Sous la tutelle de:

CNRS Université Grenoble Alpes