PAH Spectroscopy for Everyone

Grant #: NNX09AD84G
Senior Scientist: Alessandra Ricca

Observations by the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Infrared Space Observatory show that the emission bands formerly referred to as the Unidentified Infrared Emission Features (UIRs) dominate the mid-IR of almost all astronomical sources. It is now time to go beyond simply labeling the IR emission bands and exploit them as new probes of the solar system and universe. The centerpiece of this project is our large and unique IR spectral database of matrix-isolated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in their neutral, positively charged and negatively charged states. This database was created over the past 15 years by prior NASA grant support to first test and then confirm the hypothesis that the UIRs were due to PAHs. In this study we develop a publicly accessible web-based interface to our spectroscopic data and all the tools needed to download, inspect, analyze and interpret such data. Our goal is to make these spectra available to the entire space and solar system science communities and to open up the interpretation of observations from ongoing IR missions, such as NASA Spitzer Space Telescope, and future missions, such as JWST.