Cristina Dalle Ore

Characterization of the dark material in the Saturn system

The goal of our proposed research is to further investigate the nature and origin of the dark material(s) on the satellites of Saturn.

A compositional interpretation of TNO taxonomy

In the trans-Neptunian region, ices are common and clearly detectable in the largest trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs). However, it is the small TNOs at the far edge of the Solar System, pristine in composition because of their distance, that could contribute important information on the original composition of the system. The proposed research consists in an investigation aimed at:

Cristina Dalle Ore
Senior Scientist
Curriculum Vitae: 
This is an esoteric kind of detective work that is giving insight into chemistry that led to life

Cristina is one astronomer who’s gone to the dark side. In particular, she studies the organic compounds known as tholins – blackish compounds that form when ultraviolet light from the Sun impinges on water, ice, methane, and nitrogen. This dark, low-temperature material covers many of the moons and other small bodies of the outer solar system, and understanding how it was formed and where it is found could offer us important clues to life’s origin.

Cristina doesn’t have to visit these cold worlds to study their tholins. Instead, she matches spectroscopic observations to computer-generated spectra. To do this, she varies the amount of each of the tholin ingredients, as well as the grain size of the compounds, in making the computer-generated spectra that she then matches with the telescopic observations. This is an esoteric kind of detective work that is giving insight into a class of organic materials that might be implicated in the early chemistry that led to life.

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