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Venue of the HIFOL Colloquia:

Königstuhl 17, Heidelberg: Auditorium of Haus der Astronomie

Coming Colloquia


07.11.2018 – Rene Heller

@MPIA, Lecture Hall

(Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen)

Title: The Perils and Merits of Living Around a Red Dwarf Star

Abstract: The Earth does not contain most of the liquid water in the solar system. Instead, the icy moons around Jupiter and Saturn maintain huge subsurface water reservoirs worth several Earth oceans. With only one hundredth the mass of the Earth or less than a tenth the mass of Mars, Jupiter's moon Europa has long been suspected to be geologically dead with no internal heat source left to prevent it (or her) from becoming entirely frozen. The famous Laplace orbital resonance with Europa's neighboring moons Io and Ganymede, however, has kept its orbit elliptical for billions of years, which is the source of an internal tidal heat source that melts the subsurface ice. Many planets have now been found beyond the solar system, some of the most interesting of which orbit nearby red dwarf stars. Their system architectures resemble that of the Jovian moon system in many regards such as orbital mean motion resonances, the alignment of the orbital planes, the mean densities of the bodies suggesting rocky-water compositions etc. The ultimate questions is: could these extrasolar, Earth-sized planets have clement surfaces with liquid water? I will show how tidal heating and the evolution of the stellar luminosity affect the habitability of planets and moons around red dwarf stars.

05.12.2018 – Sarah Rugheimer

@MPIA, Lecture Hall

(University of St. Andrews)

Title: Influence of Stellar UV Environment on Detecting Biosigna- tures and Pre-Biosignatures in the Atmospheres of Earth-like Planets Around Other Stars

Abstract: When we observe the first terrestrial exoplanet atmospheres, we expect to find planets around a wide range of stellar types, UV environments, and geological conditions. Since the first exoplanets available for characterization will be likely for M dwarf host stars, understanding the UV environment of these cool stars is a vital step in understanding the atmospheres of these planets (Rugheimer et al., 2015). Additionally the atmospheres of these planets will not been fixed in time. Earth itself offers many possible atmospheric states of a planet. We set out to examine how an Earth-like planet at different geological epochs might look around other star types (Rugheimer Kaltenegger, 2018). Additionally, we examine the plausibility of detecting prebiotically interesting molecules, such as HCN, NH3, CH4, and C2H6 in an early-Earth type atmosphere around stars with very different UV environments, an M dwarf and a solar analogue. We find that some of these molecules could be produced abiotically in a CO2/CH4/H2 rich atmosphere with lighting and photochemistry. These molecules would be interesting to detect in an exoplanet atmosphere since they are known to be useful for key prebiotic chemical pathways. HCN, for example, is present at each of the initial photochemical reactions that produce lipids, amino acids and nucleosides, the three building blocks of life (Patel et al. 2015). We also look at the rise of oxygen and the detectability of combinations of biosignature gases throughout Earth history, modeling the great oxygenation event and Neoproterozoic oxygenation event around other star types. We show the VIS - IR spectral features, with a focus of the influence of the host star and UV stellar environment on the detectability of prebiotic and biosignatures in terrestrial exoplanet atmospheres.

30.01.2019 – Robin Garrod

(University of Virginia)

Title: New Simulations and Observations of Highly-complex Molecules in Star-forming Regions

Abstract: Interstellar space is replete with molecules; however, certain high-mass star-forming cores (i.e. "hot cores") in particular demonstrate some of the richest chemistry observed outside the solar system. Our recent 3-mm ALMA line survey (EMoCA) of the chemically-rich Galactic Center high-mass star-forming source Sagittarius B2(N) has identified a selection of new complex organic molecules, whose formation mechanisms are just beginning to be fully explored. These include a new class of molecule for interstellar chemistry: branched aliphatic species, here represented by iso-propyl cyanide (i-C3H7CN), whose straight-chain form (n-C3H7CN) was also detected. The production of many such molecules seems to be strongly dependent on diffusive chemistry on cold dust-grain surfaces, followed by the energetic processing and heating of the resultant ice mantles. Here, I will outline the chemical and physical processes that take place in interstellar/star-forming cores, and will discuss new astronomical detections of organic molecules. I will show how new gas- and solid-phase chemical kinetics simulations, combined with astrophysical spectral-emission models, can help us understand both the chemistry of star formation, and laboratory ice experiments that aim to reproduce that chemistry. I will also discuss prospects for the identification of as-yet undetected complex organic molecules.

10.04.2019 – Renyu Hu

(Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology, Pasadena)

Title: TBA

Abstract: TBA

Past Colloquia

18.07.2018 – Christian Mayer

(University of Duisburg-Essen)

Title: Vesicle Evolution as a Starting Point for Life?

27.06.2018 – Stephen J. Mojzsis

(University of Colorado)

Title: After the Moon - The Onset of Giant Planet Migration at ca. 4.49 Gyr ago

13.06.2018 – Dimitry Semenov

(Department of Chemistry, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich)

Title: Organics in Space

02.05.2018 – David Deamer

(University of California)

Title: Hydrothermal Vents or Hydrothermal Fields: Where can Life begin?

28.02.2018 – Lena Noack

(FU, Berlin)

Title: Volcanic Activity on Rocky Planets – Implications for the Habitability of Exoplanets

07.02.2018 – Daniel Apai

(University of Arizona)

Title: Building Habitable Worlds: Exo-Earth Formation and the Delivery of Volatiles and Organics

29.11.2017 – Mark van Zuilen

(Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris)

Title: Tracing Life in the early Rock Record

08.11.2017 – Ralf Kaiser

(University of Hawaii)

Title: "Exploiting Tunable Vacuum Ultraviolet Light to Unravel the Synthesis of Biorelevant Molecules in Deep Space"

26.07.2017 - Sebastian Pallmann

(Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München)

Title: "Scouting Chemical Networks" Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München)

14.06.2017 – Mark Harrison

(University of California, Los Angeles)

Title: "A New View of Early Earth and its Habitability"

03.05.2017 – Frank Postberg

(Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Heidelberg)

Title: "The Search for Life on Icy Ocean Moons in the Solar System"

12.04.2017 – Bernard Marty

(Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et Géochimiques Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy, France)

Title: "Origin of Water and other Volatile Elements in Inner Planets, in the Light of the Recent Results from the Rosetta Mission"

11.01.2017 – Edwin Bergin

(University of Michigan, Department of Astronomy)

Title: "Tracing the Ingredients of Habitable Worlds from the Interstellar Medium through Planet Formation"

21.12.2016 – Uwe J. Meierhenrich

(Université Nice Sophia Antipolis Institut de Chimie de Nice)

Title: "The Cometary Rosetta Mission: Analytical Chemistry on the Nucleus of Comet 67P"

30.11.2016 – Christian Hallmann

(Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry, MARUM, University of Bremen)

Title: "Biomarker-hydrocarbon indicators for the early evolution of life on Earth"

16.11.2016 – Albrecht Ott

(Universität des Saarlandes)

Title: "Spontaneous Autocatalysis in a Prebiotic Broth"

05.10.2016 – Bruce Fegley

(Washington University St. Louis)

Title: "Chemical models of Earth's early atmosphere"

01.06.2016 – Peter Schuster

(University of Vienna)

Title: "From Darwin’s Natural Selection to Reproducing Molecular Networks"

18.05.2016 – Ximena C. Abrevaya

(CONICET, Buenos Aires)

Title: "Astrobiology: interdisciplinary approaches for a multidisciplinary science"

11.05.2016 – Paul Higgs

(Origins Institute, McMaster University, Ontario)

Title: "From Chemistry to Biology: How did the RNA World get started?" (Organized by Th. K. Henning) 

06.04.2016 – Farid Salama

(NASA-Ames Research Center, CA, USA)

Title: "Organic Matter in Space" (Organized by Th. K. Henning) 

09.03.2016 – Lisa Kaltenegger

(Associate Professor of Astronomy @ Cornell University and Director of the Carl Sagan Institute)

Title: "Rocky Exoplanets and the Scientific Concept of Habitable Worlds"

10.02.2016 – Ralph Pudritz

(McMaster University Hamilton, Canada)

Title: "Amino acid and Nucleobase Synthesis in Meteoritic Parent Bodies"

Presentation from speakers

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