Interstellar Clouds

This was a project that I undertook in an undergraduate physical chemistry class. The idea here was that because of the essentially collisionless environment in outer space, it is possible that some strange molecules have formed there, which would be completely unstable on earth. In this project, we set up some organic molecules that were bound to a sodium cation, and used ab-initio calculations to obtain the energy spectrum of the molecule. When sodium bonds to a given ligand, there will be some competition between the radiative emission of the energy, and the dissociation of the sodium cation from the ligand. We calculated and compared these two rates in order to see if it was kinetically favourable for any exotica to be present in the interstellar medium. We were hoping to find some new molecules so that astronomers could try to find evidence of them in interstellar gases using spectroscopy, but unfortunately, there were no interesting molecules in the batch that we surveyed.

Download Report

It's amusing to look back at this report, which I was part of writing in my second year of university. I've come a long way since then.

This work was collected with further work into a publication.

  • Extending, and Repositioning, a Thermochemical Ladder: High-Level Quantum Chemical Calculations on the Sodium Cation Affinity Scale
    Jolyon Bloomfield, Erin Davies, Phillip Gatt and Simon Petrie
    Journal of Physical Chemistry A 110 (2006), 1134