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The visitor was Wolf Geppert, Professor for Chemical Physics at Stockholm and Director of the Stockholm University Astrobiology Centre. His main field of interest lies in astrochemistry and molecular astrophysics.
Place and duration of the visit: The visit was taking place at the University of Bologna from 12 – 25 April 2015
The aim of our work was to study the rotational spectral lines of several water and methanol clusters to enable their future detection in the interstellar medium. To the best of my knowledge, all previous attempts to identify weakly bound clusters in different interstellar astronomical objects have proved futile. This is also due to the lack of availability of reliable spectral data for the most promising species.
During the visit the rotational spectrum of acrylonitrile∙water was recorded using the Bologna microwave spectroscopy device in the range between 62 and 74 GHz. The fitting of the frequencies delivered a very good agreement between the observed and the fitted data, allowing to have a good assessment of the quantum mechanical constants of this cluster.
The data has been published in a special issue of Journal of Physical Chemistry.
We further plan to attempt astronomic observations of clusters using the 12m telescope at Kitt Peak Observatory, and the 20m telescope at Onsala Space. Based on the recorded spectra we hope to be able to perform the first unambiguous detection of a water clusters in space.