Editor’s Note: This week we’re at the virtual 238th AAS Meeting. Along with a team of authors from Astrobites, we will be writing updates on selected events at the meeting and posting each day. Follow along here or at astrobites.com. The usual posting schedule for AAS Nova will resume on June 14th.
LAD Plenary Lecture: Origins of Astrochemical Complexity (by Luna Zagorac)
Astrochemical complexity and its origins is a topic that is just too — well, complex! — to cover in a single plenary. For this reason, Karin Öberg (Harvard University) began with a small amendment to the talk title: she focused on “(Icy) Origins of Astrochemical Complexity (During Planet Formation).” Specifically, she tracked the origins of volatile organic compounds through the process of planet and star formation. In chemistry speak, “volatile” means that these molecules prefer to be in the gas stage, while “organic” means that they necessarily have a carbon (C) atom, often linked to oxygen (O) and nitrogen (N). Understanding where these molecules come from is crucial, because they are the building blocks of life on Earth!
But before we can have life, we have to have a planet. The story of planet formation, roughly, is as ...