Chemistry in the Cosmos: From Simplicity to Complexity

  • Speaker
  • Amiel Sternberg, Ph.D.Senior Research Scientist, Galaxy Formation, CCA, Flatiron Institute
Date & Time


Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium
160 5th Ave
New York, NY 10010 United States

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TEA: 4:15-5:00pm LECTURE: 5:00-6:15pm

About Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Mathematics and Physical Sciences lectures are open to the public and are held at the Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium at the Simons Foundation headquarters in New York City. Tea is served prior to each lecture.

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The chemical makeup of the universe has evolved over billions of years. The first atoms were mostly hydrogen with a bit of helium and traces of lithium and beryllium. Since then, processes such as nuclear fusion in stars and exploding supernovae have forged new elements and altered the composition of the cosmos.

In this lecture, Amiel Sternberg will present an overview of chemistry in the cosmos, from the formation of the first stars in the early universe to present-day galaxies and the stellar and planetary systems that they contain. The chemical composition of the interstellar medium in galaxies, including the Milky Way, plays an essential role in the thermal and dynamical evolution of gravitationally collapsing star-forming molecular clouds and the formation of protoplanetary disks and systems. A rich interstellar inventory, from simple diatomic molecules to an array of multi-atom organic species, traces the growth of complexity in the universe, including the habitable zones required for the emergence of life.

About the Speaker

Sternberg joined the Center for Computational Astrophysics at the Flatiron Institute as a senior research scientist in 2017. Sternberg is a theoretical astrophysicist working in the fields of galaxy evolution; star formation; cosmic structure; black holes and active galaxies; the intergalactic and interstellar mediums; astrochemistry and plasma astrophysics; dynamics; spectroscopy and radiative transfer; computational methods; and the theory of fundamental processes. Sternberg is Yuval-Ne’eman Professor of Theoretical Physics at Tel Aviv University in Israel, where he is a faculty member in the astronomy department. He is also an external scientific member of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany. He received his Ph.D. in 1986 from Columbia University and is a graduate of Harvard College.

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