The study of astrochemistry has become an important branch of modern astronomy and astrophysics. Molecules are key tools in exploring topics such as star and planet formation, mass loss mechanisms in late-type stars, the origin and evolution of interstellar dust grains, the structure of the interstellar medium in galaxies and the origin of protogalaxies in the early Universe.
Facilities such as the Herschel Space Observatory, ALMA, NOEMA, Rosetta and SOFIA are producing results that provide information on densities, temperatures, excitation mechanisms, dynamics in interstellar gas and lead to new research areas such as the habitability of exoplanets, the origin of prebiotic chemistry and astrobiology.
At the same time as new observational facilities and instruments are revealing new views of our molecular universe, there has been a concerted effort among physical chemists to provide the large amount of fundamental data required to interpret these observations.
The active synergy between astronomical observation, laboratory experiment and theoretical modelling has been reinforced at the latest General Assembly by the creation of a new IAU Commission (B5) on Laboratory Astrophysics, of which laboratory astrochemistry is a component.
This meeting is the seventh in a series to discuss far-infrared and submillimeter emission of the interstellar medium from the Milky Way and other galaxies.