School of Physics and Astronomy

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Dr Catherine Walsh

Astrophysics Group

Contact details

Room: 9.63
Tel: +44 (0)113 3430958
Email: c.walsh1 @


Molecular astrophysics
Star and planet formation
Protoplanetary disks
Exoplanetary atmospheres
Submillimeter astronomy

Research interests

I study molecules in space across the spectrum of molecular sources: from interstellar clouds, the birth places of stars, through to protoplanetary disks and planetary atmospheres, and even on to circumstellar envelopes around dying stars. Molecules have huge prebiotic significance since they are the elementary building blocks of planetary systems. I am interested in fundamental astrochemical processes, i.e., how molecules are formed and destroyed in different environments, and how they can be used to probe the physical conditions in the diverse range of extreme environments in which they survive. Molecules are a unique and powerful tool in astronomy.

I make use of high-spatial and high-spectral resolution observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array which is currently revolutionising the field of star and planet formation. I am principal investigator of four ALMA programs, two of which concern the investigation of the gas and dust structure of protoplanetary disks around intermediate-mass stars that also show signatures of embedded planets and ongoing planet formation. The second two programs are a deep search for the complex organic ice reservoir in disks around nearby Sun-like stars, to help answer questions regarding the origin of complex molecules in planetary systems.

Useful links

Kinetic Database for Astrochemistry (KIDA)
The UMIST Database for Astrochemistry (UDfA)
The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia
NIST Chemical Kinetics Database
Photodissociation and photoionization of astrophysically relevant
PHotoIonization/Dissociation RATES (Huebner database)
The Cologne Database for Molecular Spectroscopy (CDMS)
JPL Molecular Spectroscopy
Leiden Atomic and Molecular Database (LAMDA)
NIST Chemistry Web Book
NIST-JANAF Thermochemical Tables
Computational Chemistry Comparison and Benchmark DataBase