Venue of the HIFOL Colloquia:

Königstuhl 17, Heidelberg: Auditorium of Haus der Astronomie

Upcoming Talks

The molecular trail of life: From interstellar prebiotics to biomolecules on planets

  • Date: Dec 8, 2021
  • Time: 16:15
  • Speaker: Dr. Niels F.W. Ligterink (University of Bern)
Life as we know it revolves around molecules and a key question is "How do the first biomolecules form?". They may form in some primordial soup on planets, but perhaps their origin is older and out dates the formation of planetary systems.In this talk I will follow the molecular trail of life in space and look at two distinct snapshots. First, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) is used to investigate the prebiotic molecular inventories of star-forming regions. These prebiotic species are linked to the formation of biomolecules and as such can aid the emergence of life on planets and moons. This work shows that star- and planet-forming regions are teeming with a large variety of prebiotic molecules.Second, we stay near our "small, spinning fragment of Solar driftwood" and aim to detect biomolecules on nearby planets (Mars) and moons (Europe). For this we require ultra-sensitive instruments on space exploration missions. To achieve this goal, we developed the ORIGIN instrument, a Laser Desorption Mass Spectrometer that can detect large non-volatile biomolecules that may be present on planetary surfaces. Our studies with ORIGIN demonstrate that it is capable of measuring trace amounts of amino acids, PAHs, and lipids, and thus can assess the state of a primordial soup or even infer the presence of life. [more]

Past Colloquia

New geological insights from the Barberton Greenstone Belt and evidence for early "life on land"?

New geological insights from the Barberton Greenstone Belt and evidence for early "life on land"?: HIFOL Colloquia
  • Date: Jan 27, 2021
  • Time: 16:15
  • Speaker: Prof. Dr. Christoph Heubeck
  • Location: Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
  • Host: Thomas K. Henning
  • Contact:

Diversity of Super-Earth interiors

HIFOL Colloquia
  • Date: Feb 10, 2021
  • Time: 16:15
  • Speaker: Dr. Caroline Dorn
  • Location: Uni of Zurich, Institute of computational sciences
  • Host: Thomas K. Henning
  • Contact:

Chemical Basis of the Origins of Biological Homochirality

HIFOL Colloquia
  • Date: May 12, 2021
  • Time: 16:15
  • Speaker: Prof. Dr. David Hochberg
  • Location: Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA), Madrid
  • Host: Thomas K. Henning
  • Contact:

Molecular Evolution of Prebiotically Plausible Organocatalysts

HIFOL Colloquia
  • Date: Jun 23, 2021
  • Time: 16:15
  • Speaker: Anna Closs
  • Location: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
  • Host: Thomas K. Henning
  • Contact:

Chemical space: Designed or Discovered?

HIFOL Colloquia
  • Date: Jun 30, 2021
  • Time: 16:15
  • Speaker: Prof. Dr. Lee Cronin
  • Location: University of Glasgow
  • Host: Thomas K. Henning
  • Contact:

Molten exoplanets as a window into the earliest Earth

  • Date: Nov 17, 2021
  • Time: 16:00
  • Speaker: Dr. Tim Lichtenberg, Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics at the University of Oxford, UK
Due to the absence of a reliable rock record from the Hadean, our understanding of the planetary environment that gave rise to life on the earliest Earth is clouded. Upcoming exoplanet surveys, however, will significantly widen our view of the distribution and variability of rocky planets and their chemical inventories, giving opportunity to test scenarios of early planetary evolution. I will describe efforts to establish a comprehensive theoretical framework to simulate the coupled evolution of solidifying planetary mantles and their outgassing atmospheres on young rocky worlds for a wide range of instellation, mass, and composition. In combination with statistical data on a population level and detailed characterisation of individual high-temperature planets, this will enable us to infer the climatic and geodynamic properties of clement, rocky worlds. I will conclude with an outlook on how inferences on the climate and geochemistry of rocky exoplanets may open the path to constraining the formation and earliest surface environment of our own planet. [more]

vor 2021

18.11.2020 (Wednesday at 4.15 pm)– Dr. Ko-Ju Chuang

(Laboratory Astrophysics and Cluster Physics Group Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg and Institute for Solid State Physics, Friedrich Schiller University Jena Germany)

Title: Formation of interstellar organic molecules in early star-forming regions

You can download video of the talk here

17.06.2020 – Sean N. Raymond

(Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Bordeaux)
Title: Origin of water on earth and rocky exoplanets

31.07.2019 – Oliver Trapp

(Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich)

Title: Early Pathways to Life: Mechanisms to DNA, Molecular Evolution and Homochirality

12.06.2019 – Mario Trieloff

(Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Heidelberg)

Title: Origin of the Earth's Atmosphere

29.05.2019 – Thomas Carell

(Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich)

Title: Chemistry towards Origin of Life

27.05.2020 – Ben K. D. Pearce

(Physics & Astronomy – Astrobiology, McMaster University)

Title: Biogenic Worlds: How HCN is produced in Titan's atmosphere

10.04.2019 – Renyu Hu

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

Title: Stability of Habitable Environments on Terrestrial Exoplanets

30.01.2019 – Robin Garrod

(University of Virginia)

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

05.12.2018 – Sarah Rugheimer

(University of Oxford)

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

07.11.2018 – Rene Heller

(Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen)

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

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"

25.03.2015 – William F. Martin

(University Düsseldorf)
Title: In the Beginning it was Dark: Hydrothermal Vents and the Origin of Life

24.03.2015 – Dirk Schulze-Makuch

(University of Washington, Seattle)
Title: Investigating Planetary Habitability on Multiple Scales: Of Water Droplets, Microbialites, and Global Biospheres

22.04.2015 – Dieter Braun

(LMU Munich)
Title: Nonequilibrium Routes to Darwinian Evolution

06.05.2015 - John Sutherland

(MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK)
Title: Origins of Life Systems Chemistry

17.06.2015 – 

Ulrich Schreiber

(University Duisburg-Essen): 
Title: Origin of Life in Tectonic Fault Zones of the Earth's Crust

Christian Mayer 

(University Duisburg-Essen) 

Title: Periodic Vesicle Formation in Tectonic Fault Zones: An Ideal Scenario for Molecular Evolution

08.06.2015 – David Catling 

(University of Washington, Seattle): 
Title: The Evolution of Atmospheres on Inhabited and Lifeless Planets
Presentation from speakers
    Go to Editor View