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Admission requirements

Radiative processes and Quantum Mechanics.


The space between the stars is not empty but filled with a very dilute gas with extremely low densities and temperatures, providing a unique laboratory with conditions not normally encountered on Earth. A surprisingly rich chemistry occurs in these so-called interstellar clouds, as evidenced by the discovery of nearly 150 different
molecules. Some of these species were found in space before they were identified in a laboratory on Earth. How are these molecules formed? Where are they found and how do astronomers identify them? How do their abundances differ from place to place and what does this tell us about the structure of the region? How do the abundances evolve from cold clouds to planet-forming disks, where they can form the basis for prebiotic species?

The outline of the course is as follows:

  • Basic principles of gas-phase and gas-grain chemical reactions

  • Chemistry in the early Universe

  • Chemistry in diffuse and translucent clouds, and in photon-dominated regions

  • Chemistry in shocks

  • Evolution of molecular abundances from dark pre-stellar cores to star-forming regions

  • Chemistry in protoplanetary disks and links with comets

Course objectives

The student will gain relevant background information that will enable him/her to follow the current literature on Astrochemistry and to do research in this field. The student will also acquire hands-on experience with running molecular excitation and chemical network codes, and make predictions for ALMA.


The lectures will be given in a block of 2 weeks. See MSc schedules.

Mode of instruction

7 lectures and 3 exercise sessions.

Assessment method

Oral (by appointment) + presentation


No, a course website will be available (see below).

Reading list

Handouts of lecture notes; background material:

  • The physics and chemistry of the interstellar medium, 2005, A.G.G.M. Tielens (Cambridge University Press), chapters 4, 5, 9, 10.


Via uSis
More information about signing up for your classes at the Faculty of Science can be found here
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Course website:


This lecture series is given every other year. The next opportunity is in spring 2018.