Dr. Silvia Spezzano leads a Max Planck Independent Research Group at MPE since November 2020.
She received her PhD at the University of Cologne in 2013 with the Thesis "Rotational spectroscopy of elusive molecules in the laboratory and in space", and was a Minerva Fast-Track fellow at MPE from 2017 to 2020.
- Gas-phase molecular spectroscopy
- Dr. Hayley Bunn, postdoc (2022-present)
- Katharina Giers, PhD student (2021-present)
- Dr. Sigurd S. Jensen, postdoc (2021-present)
- Dr. Yuxin Lin, postdoc (2021-present)
Hayley uses laboratory molecular spectroscopy to provide accurate spectral information of various molecules for their identification and characterisation focussing on two stages of planet formation, the interstellar medium (ISM) and exoplanetary atmospheres. She provides accurate spectral frequencies of complex organic molecules (COMs) using millimeter/submillimeter spectroscopy required for their detection in the ISM. In particular, she focuses on the deuterated isotopologues of COMs, that are then used to trace the evolution of material in the star and planet formation process. In addition, Hayley uses high resolution infrared spectroscopy to provide accurate pressure broadening and temperature coefficients as well as providing high temperature spectral frequencies, all of which are necessary to correctly characterise the composition and abundances of exoplanetary atmospheres.
Katharina studies the physical and chemical processes happening in starless, pre-stellar, and protostellar cores. To achieve this, she analyses the distribution of molecules across the cores, using molecular emission lines and emission maps observed with single-dish radio telescopes. The goal of her studies is to understand the formation, inheritance and evolution of different molecules along the star formation process. To link the chemical processes to physical parameters of the sources, she builds detailed physical models of them, applying data from the Herschel Space Observatory. With radiative transfer modelling, the physical structures are then used to reproduce the observed molecules. During her PhD, she will study the molecular complexity and chemical differentiation of different sources by applying machine learning techniques (e.g. unsupervised clustering), to find correlations among different molecules and the influence of the environment on the chemistry.
Sigurd develops and studies 3D physico-chemical models of pre-stellar cores in order to understand both the physical and chemical structure of the cores. A central theme of his research is to uncover how the surrounding molecular cloud environment impacts the chemistry of pre-stellar cores and to what degree chemical signatures are inherited by the later stages of star- and planet formation. Sigurd also uses single-dish radio observatories to study the molecular composition of pre-stellar cores and compare with the modelled results to maintain a strong link between the theoretical and empirical work.
Yuxin works on molecular cloud structures of high-mass and low-mass star forming regions and analyses their physical and chemical structures with observations from both single-dish and interferometers. Specifically, with various molecular lines as well as with multi-wavelength dust emission, she is interested in revealing the thermal properties, density structures, gas kinematics and chemical composition with the aid of radiative transfer calculation. In particular, she is interested in the molecules that are chemically relevant, which can be used to pinpoint the evolutionary stages, and in turn to advance our understanding of the complex chemical pathways in the interstellar environment.