Elegant and fast: the GACELA is running

The Gas Cell chamber

On June 7, 2019, a first paper on the GACELA (GAs CEll for Laboratory Astrophysics) experimental set-up is out at the “Astronomy & Astrophysics” journal (A&A, volume 626, A34, 2019).

More than 3 years have elapsed since the first designs were envisaged for this set-up. Finally, at the end of 2017, the chamber (see figure above) was delivered and successfully tested against leaks. On the other hand, the GACELA broad-band radio receivers (Q and W bands, 31.5–50 and 72–116.5 GHz, respectively) were successfully commissioned in the second semester of 2017 and interfaced with the GACELA set-up in February 2018. Several experimental runs were performed, showing high quality signal-to-noise ratio spectra of molecular species (CH3CN, CH3OH, CH4/N2, CH4/N2/CH3CN, etc).

As stated by the authors, GACELA has achieved an important milestone. It is the first time that we can observe the thermal emission of molecules with an instantaneous band width of 20 GHz in Q band and 3 × 20 GHz in W band for Laboratory Astrophysics. These rotational spectroscopy measurements are complemented by mass spectrometry and optical spectroscopy.

In summary, NANOCOSMOS has developed an elegant and fast-responding set-up, the GACELA, to provide high-resolution and high-sensitivity spectra of molecular species produced in cold plasmas or UV experiments.

More information:

This research was presented in the paper “Broad-band high-resolution rotational spectroscopy for laboratory astrophysics“, published in Astronomy and Astrophysics 626, A34 (29pp), 2019 June 7. The authors are: José Cernicharo (Instituto de Física Fundamental, IFF-CSIC), Juan D. Gallego (Centro de Desarrollos Tecnológicos, Observatorio de Yebes, IGN), José A. López-Pérez (CDT, OY, IGN), Félix Tercero (CDT, OY, IGN), Isabel Tanarro (Instituto de Estructura de la Materia, IEM-CSIC), Francisco Beltrán (CDT, OY, IGN), Pablo de Vicente (CDT, OY, IGN), Koen Lauwaet (Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid, ICMM-CSIC & IMDEA Nanociencia), Belén Alemán (ICMM-CSIC & IMDEA Materiales), Elena Moreno (IFF-CSIC), Víctor J. Herrero (IEM-CSIC), José L. Doménech (IEM-CSIC), Sandra I. Ramírez (Centro de Investigaciones Químicas, UAEM, Mexico), Celina Bermúdez (IFF-CSIC), Ramón J. Peláez (IEM-CSIC), María Patino-Esteban (CDT, OY, IGN), Isaac López-Fernández (CDT, OY, IGN), Sonia García-Álvaro (CDT, OY, IGN), Pablo García-Carreño (CDT, OY, IGN), Carlos Cabezas (IFF-CSIC), Inmaculada Malo (CDT, OY, IGN), Ricardo Amils (CDT, OY, IGN), Jesús Sobrado (Centro de Astrobiología, INTA-CSIC), Carmen Díez-González (CDT, OY, IGN), José M. Hernández (IFF-CSIC/CDT, OY, IGN), Belén Tercero (CDT, OY, IGN), Gonzalo Santoro (ICMM-CSIC), Lidia Martínez (ICMM-CSIC), Marcelo Castellanos (IFF-CSIC), Beatriz Vaquero-Jiménez (CDT, OY, IGN), Juan R. Pardo (IFF-CSIC), Laura Barbas (CDT, OY, IGN), José A. López-Fernández (CDT, OY, IGN), Beatriz Aja (Universidad de Cantabria), Arnulf Leuther (Fraunhofer Institut fur Angewandte Festkorperphysik, Germany), José A. Martín-Gago (ICMM-CSIC).

The GACELA experimental set-up is located at the Centro de Desarrollos Tecnológicos, Observatorio de Yebes, thanks to a bilateral agreement between CSIC and IGN for the development of the NANOCOSMOS project.

The starting signal to unveil the formation of dust grains in AGB stars

The Stardust machine has been constructed to simulate the formation of dust grains in the atmospheres of Asymptotic Giant Branch Stars (AGBs), their evolution and further interaction with the ambient UV radiation.

On May 8, 2018, the first paper on the NANOCOSMOS Stardust machine has been published at the “Scientific Reports” journal (Scientific Reports, volume 8, Article number: 7250 (2018)).
After almost 4 years of hard work at the Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid (ICMM-CSIC), the article comprises the stages of the design, development, commissioning and first-light experiments of this innovative experimental station.

Stardust integrates a precise tool to fabricate high quantities of complex nanoparticles, perform in-flight manipulation and in-situ characterization, all through five Ultra-High Vacuum (UHV) modules assembled. The article presents the precise fabrication, manipulation and in-situ analysis of Cu nanoparticles, as part of the commissioning of the machine.

To the best of our knowledge, several milestones have been achieved, such as:
– The new design of the scaled-up Multiple Ion Cluster Source (MICS) addresses a significant step-forward towards industrial implementation of gas aggregation sources, for applications with special requirements such as controlled purity, size distribution, stoichiometry and structure of the nanoparticles.
– First-time accurate control of the Cu oxidation state through reactive sputtering using gas aggregation sources that avoids poisoning of the target by injecting large amounts of oxygen.
– Integration of several techniques that combine the fine control of nanoparticle fabrication with high throughputs, in-flight manipulation (i.e.: gas injection at different stages, heating, accelerating, …) and in-situ characterization (electron spectroscopy techniques and thermal desorption spectroscopy).

More information:

This research was presented in the paper “Precisely controlled fabrication, manipulation and in-situ analysis of Cu based nanoparticles“, published in Scientific Reports 8, 7250 (13pp), 2018 May 8. The authors are: Lidia Martínez (Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid, ICMM-CSIC, Madrid, Spain), Koen Lauwaet (ICMM-CSIC), Gonzalo Santoro (ICMM-CSIC), Jesús M. Sobrado (Centro de Astrobiología, CSIC-INTA, Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain), Ramón J. Peláez (Instituto de Estructura de la Materia, IEM-CSIC, Madrid, Spain), Víctor J. Herrero (IEM-CSIC), Isabel Tanarro (IEM-CSIC), Gary J. Ellis (Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología de Polímeros, ICTP-CSIC, Madrid, Spain), José Cernicharo (Instituto de Física Fundamental, IFF-CSIC, Madrid, Spain), Christine Joblin (Université de Toulouse, UPS-OMP, IRAP; CNRS, IRAP, Toulouse, France), Yves Huttel (ICMM-CSIC) and Jose Angel Martín-Gago (ICMM-CSIC).

NANOCOSMOS post-doctoral position at the Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid (ICMM-CSIC, Madrid, Spain) in the field of laboratory astrophysics and surface science

Within the framework of the ERC-Synergy “Nanocosmos” project, we are seeking a senior post-doctoral researcher to work on: “Laboratory astrophysics simulation experiments using the Stardust machine”.

The candidate should have a strong expertise in some of the following fields: Laboratory Astrophysics, Surface Science (fundamentals and techniques), Ultra-High Vacuum systems (use and engineering), nanoparticle growth and solid-phase Physical-Chemistry. A good record of publications in peer-reviewed journals is a strong asset. The successful candidate will participate in on-going operations of the Stardust machine, being an interface between astrophysicists and surface scientists. The applicant must have an excellent knowledge in English, both written and spoken. The position will be filled for a fixed term of 2 years with a possible renewal until the end of the project in July 2020. The starting date of the position will be as soon as possible.

Applications. If you are interested in this position, please submit your CV together with a motivation letter and a recommendation letter, ALL IN ONE SINGLE PDF FILE, at the latest by the 15th of October, to: Prof. J. A. Martín-Gago (gago at icmm.csic.es)

The “Stardust” machine is an innovative experimental station devoted to the production, processing and in-situ analysis of any type of cluster or nanoparticle made up to three different materials by means of a scaled-up multiple ion cluster source, in a highly controlled ultra-high vacuum environment. Stardust has been designed to simulate the complex conditions of cosmic-dust formation and processing in the circumstellar region of evolved stars and supernova.

More information available at:


Salary. The salary of the position is determined in accordance with the salary system of CSIC (Spain National Research Council) which amounts between €36.000/€40.000 gross in 14 instalments. In addition, funds for travel and allowance to conferences and workshops are covered up by the project.

ECLA2016 conference ready to go!!

From next Monday 21 till Friday 25, the European Conference on Laboratory Astrophysics (ECLA2016 – Gas on the Rocks) will take place at the CSIC headquarters in Madrid. The opening act will be led by the president of CSIC, Emilio Lora-Tamayo, together with the Director of the Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid (ICMM-CSIC). Federico Soria, and José Cernicharo (SOC chair), Christine Joblin (SOC co-chair) and Isabel Tanarro (LOC chair).

More than 170 scientists worldwide (astrophysicists, physicists, chemists and engineers) will address the state of the art in laboratory astrophysics within the context of new exciting astrophysical data. In order to achieve a closer collaboration in the analysis and interpretation of astrophysical and laboratory data, nearly 80 talks and 90 posters will be presented at the conference.

A dedicated press room will be available at the conference webpage. Several scientists will be interviewed to show the general public how science can improve our current understanding on fundamental questions such as the formation of planetary systems and molecular complexity in Space as well as the interrelation between technological developments and top laboratory studies to address these fundamental questions.

Stay tuned!!

NANOCOSMOS at the Guillermo Haro School on Molecular Astrophysics (Puebla, Mexico)

Prof. José Cernicharo has been awarded with the Guillermo Haro Visiting Professorship 2016 at the Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica (INAOE, posterGH16Puebla, Mexico). Following this award, INAOE has organized the Guillermo Haro School on Molecular Astrophysics (October 11 – 21, 2016). Several NANOCOSMOS scientists (Asunción Fuente from CNIG-IGN, Nuria Marcelino, José Pablo Fonfría and Luis Velilla from ICMM-CSIC) will give lectures on the following topics:

  • Molecular Astrophysics, Spectroscopy, Chemistry in the ISM (José Cernicharo)
  • Physical and chemical processes in the ISM, Protoplanetary disks (Asunción Fuente)
  • Observational methods and interpretation (Nuria Marcelino)
  • Molecular excitation and radiative transfer, Circumstellar medium (José Pablo Fonfría)
  • Chemistry in the circumstellar medium, atmospheric  effects and calibration (Luis Velilla)

José Cernicharo will give a public talk in Puebla downtown on Thursday 13: “Moléculas en el espacio: Astroquímica”.

NANOCOSMOS on top: Press releases from Nature´s “Compression and ablation of the photo-irradiated molecular cloud the Orion Bar”

The paper “Compression and ablation of the photo-irradiated molecular cloud the Orion Bar” (Goicoechea et al. 2016) recently published in Nature, has put Astrochemistry and NANOCOSMOS in the leading edge forefront of many research institutIons, newspapers and mass media. A few examples can be found below:

ESO Picture of the week


L´Observatoire de Paris

Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique (IRAM)

Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP)

ALMA news

El Mundo newspaper

ABC newspaper

La Vanguardia newspaper

El diario newspaper


Nature paper led by NANOCOSMOS members

The Nature Journal published yesterday a paper entitled “Compression and ablation of the photo-irradiated molecular cloud the Orion Bar”, led and with the participation of several members of our group.

One-arcsecond-resolution millimetre-wave images taken with ALMA enable the ‘skin’ of the Orion molecular cloud to be resolved. The stunning images reveal a fragmented ridge of high-density filamentary substructures, photoablative gas flows and instabilities that suggest that the cloud edge has been compressed by a high-pressure wave expanding into the molecular cloud. These results are in contrast to predictions from static equilibrium models and reveal a very dynamic UV-irradiated cloud edge.

Link to the paper: Compression and ablation of the photo-irradiated molecular cloud the Orion Bar. Nature Letters. Doi: 10.1038/nature18957


Prof. Christine Joblin awarded the Legion of Honour

Christine Joblin, one of the NANOCOSMOS project PIs, has been awarded chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honour for her public service and professional activities with eminent merits in scientific research both at the national and international levels. cjoblin_legion_honourChristine Joblin is a research director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in l’Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP, Université Toulouse 3).

You can read the full press release (in French).

Congrats Christine!!!