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Paper: Observing the Molecular Composition of Galaxies
Volume: 420, Bioastronomy 2007: Molecules, Microbes and Extraterrestrial Life
Page: 19
Authors: Martín, S.
Abstract: The recent availability of wideband receivers and high sensitivity instruments in the mm and submm wavelengths has opened the possibility of studying in detail the chemistry of the interstellar medium in extragalactic objects. Within the central few hundred parsec of galaxies, we find enormous amounts of molecular material fueling a wide variety of highly energetic events observed in starbursts (galaxies undergoing an intense burst of star formation) and active galactic nuclei (AGN), where activity is driven by the accretion of material onto the nuclear black hole).
This paper presents a brief summary of both the history and the latest results in observational chemistry in distant galaxies. It will be shown how the molecular emission is a powerful tool to explore the physics of the dust-enshrouded, buried nuclei of distant ultraluminous galaxies, which are heavily obscured at other wavelengths. Special attention will be given to the possibilities offered by next generation instruments such as ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter Array), expected to have a vast impact on the field of Extragalactic Chemistry. Molecular studies in the early Universe will become available at unprecedented sensitivity and resolution.
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