Search for MgF and CaF in astronomical settings & possible laser cooling applications

(supervisor: Maire Gorman)

Nature of project: data analysis, software

Available to full-time physicists or joint students.

Project description and methodology

This project is based around data analysis and software. The first step is to identify, gather and format experimental wavelengths and spectroscopic constants and create a list of energies for these molecules using specialist software.


The range of data available for these two molecules is almost identical: hence if you are working in a pair you would be able to share expertise and cross-check each other's work whilst at the same time having a molecule to work on yourself.

The second step is to fit these lists of energies to results to quantum chemistry calculations and hence generate a line list.

This project would form part of the work of the ExoMol group (http://exomol.com/).

A successful project will develop beyond the above in one/some of the following directions:
Several fluorides have been discovered in the inter-stellar medium (ISM) to date-additional work would be to simulate spectra (using your line list) and hence work towards making a detection in the ISM and/or stars.

Another possibility is to undertake calculations to investigate possible laser cooling applications.

When considering where to take your project, please bear in mind the time available. It is preferable to do fewer things well than to try many and not get conclusive results on any of them. However, sometimes it is useful to have a couple of strands of investigation in parallel to work on in case delays occur.

Additional scope or challenge if taken as a Year-4 project: Quantum chemistry calculations for these molecules using Gaussian.

Initial literature for students:

  1. http://www.exomol.com/
  2. http://kkrk.chem.elte.hu/marvelonline/index.php
  3. gaussian.com
  4. http://pgopher.chm.bris.ac.uk/

Novelty, degree of difficulty and amount of assistance required

The process of generating a line list for a diatomic molecule has been successfully done on numerous occasions by the ExoMol group. However this project is novel in that, if successful, will provide the necessary data for astronomers to hence make detections of these molecules in space.

Project milestones and deliverables (including timescale)

milestoneto be completed by
Summary of relevant experimental dataend of October
Gather all experimental data, process into formatend of February
Start to fit all experimental data (ground state to start with) mid-March
Run linelist calculations, simulate spectraEaster