After several months of steady (but somewhat slow) progress, I finally submitted the first paper of my PhD project last week. Its purpose is two-fold: (1) to describe the key chemical reactions affecting polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs; large organic molecules) in gas/dust disks around young stars; and (2) to study the effects of their chemistry on the infrared emission we observe from such stars/disks.
If you do know what PAHs and disks around stars are, and if you want to know all the details, I’m happy to direct you to this PDF file, which is the version I submitted to the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. Please note that my paper has not been refereed yet, so the final version may deviate from the current one.
Interestingly, the PAH model I describe in my paper has already been put to use in two other papers. Vincent Geers, a fellow PhD student here in Leiden, used it to analyze actual observations from PAHs in disks. Klaus Pontoppidan, a postdoc at Caltech and a former Leiden PhD student, used it to analyze the young star VV Ser and its surrounding gas/dust cloud. You can find their papers online as well: Vincent’s work and Klaus’s work. Vincent’s paper includes me as one of the co-authors, while Klaus’s paper mentions my model in the acknowledgements.
I will be attending a two-day conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland in early January, and I hope to get a chance to present my research there in a short talk. It would be cool if I can! (It would also be pretty scary, since I’ve never given a talk at a conference before, but I’ve got to do it at some point…)