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24th of August 2015
Sagittarius B2 with the ATCA: A Broadband Glimpse of our Molecular Universe
by Joanna Corby (University of Virginia)
The powerful capabilities of new-generation radio interferometers provide access to orders of magnitude more information in the same amount of observing time. This promises to profoundly affect our understanding of the interstellar medium, and particularly the yet budding field of astrochemistry. The work of Corby et al. (2015) is the first published spectral line survey conducted with a new-generation broadband interferometer. Collected in only 24 hours of observing with the ATCA, the data demonstrate what is possible in the age of broadband interferometry.

The survey provides full spectral coverage across the 7-mm band, from 30-50 GHz, towards the most massive star forming region in the Galaxy, namely Sagittarius B2 (Sgr B2). Sgr B2 is the preeminent source for studying complex chemistry in the ISM, as it hosts the most complex chemical environment observed anywhere outside of the Solar System! The data provide unprecedented detail on the molecular complexity of multiple spatially resolved chemical environments, demonstrating the spatial distributions of hundreds of spectral lines generated by more than 50 identified molecules and Hydrogen and Helium recombination.

Above: Integrated line contours overlaid on a continuum image show chemical differentiation between hot molecular cores (right panel) and material observed in absorption (dashed contours) against the the continuum (left panel). Spectra extracted from different positions on the ATCA field show the incredible line density in Sgr B2, highlighted by the sensitivity and broad bandwidth provided by the ATCA.

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