Molecules in Space: Our Astrochemical Origins

Molecules are found everywhere in space: in cold and dense clouds in the interstellar medium of galaxies, in planet-forming disks around young stars, and in the atmospheres of hot gas-giant exoplanets. The field of astrochemistry brings together astronomers, physicists, and chemists working on observations, theory, and experiments to increase our understanding of the chemistry that occurs under the extreme conditions in space, and to exploit the information contained within observations that can reveal the chemical, physical, and dynamical properties of astrophysical environments. In this talk I will describe how the origin of complexity seen in our Solar System and that has been exposed in the molecular inventory of comets, has its heritage in the exotic chemistry that happens in the coldest and most quiescent region in space, the interstellar medium. Along the way, I will present results from state-of-the-art space missions and telescopes that are uncovering our astrochemical origins.