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Organic Molecules in Space: Insights from the NASA Ames Molecular Database in the era of the James Webb Space Telescope

Matthew J. Shannon
Universities Space Research Association, Columbia, MD
NASA Ames Research Center, MS245-6, Moffett Field, CA 94035-1000

Christiaan Boersma
San José State University Research Foundation, 210 N 4th St Fl 4, San Jose, CA 95112
NASA Ames Research Center, MS245-6, Moffett Field, CA 94035-1000


We present the software tool pyPAHdb to the scientific astronomical community, which is used to characterize emission from one of the most prevalent types of organic molecules in space, namely polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). It leverages the detailed studies of organic molecules done at the NASA Ames Research Center. pyPAHdb is a streamlined Python version of the NASA Ames PAH IR Spectroscopic Database (PAHdb; suite of IDL tools. PAHdb has been extensively used to analyze and interpret the PAH signature from a plethora of emission sources, ranging from solar-system objects to entire galaxies. pyPAHdb decomposes astronomical PAH emission spectra into contributing PAH sub-classes in terms of charge and size using a database-fitting technique. The inputs for the fit are spectra constructed using the spectroscopic libraries of PAHdb and take into account the detailed photo-physics of the PAH excitation/emission process.


astronomy, databases, fitting, data analysis



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