Interstellar nanoparticles are the building blocks of larger interstellar grains, and ultimately of still larger solid bodies such as comets, asteroids, and terrestrial planets. Dr. Adolf Witt (University of Toledo) and Dr. Uma P. Vijh (Space Telescope Science Institute), in collaboration with Dr. Karl Gordon (University of Arizona), Dr. Donald York (University of Chicago), and Mr. Steven Mandel (Mandel Communications), will continue a multifaceted spectrophotometric and CCD-imaging program of observations of nebulae and the high-latitude diffuse interstellar medium. The goal of the research is to lead to a detailed characterization, and eventual identification, of luminescent nanoparticles known to exist in the interstellar medium.
The research is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on findings from astrophysics, materials science, nanotechnology, and physical chemistry. It is anticipated that interactions and collaborations with physical chemists will continue to be part of the broader impact of the research. The bulk of this program forms the core of the PhD thesis project of a University of Toledo graduate student. In addition, this project will provide research opportunities for undergraduates.