Laboratory experiments and chemical models

NANOCOSMOS has developed a custom-designed vacuum chamber for the study of gas-phase molecular species through rotational spectroscopy. The innovative breakthrough is the coupling of the chamber to the new NANOCOSMOS millimeter broad band receivers. These receivers are twins of those built for the Yebes 40 meter radio telescope. We call the whole experimental setup as GACELA – Gas Cell for Laboratory Astrophysics.

Our experiments address the characterization of molecules that represent a considerable fraction of all the molecular species detected in the interstellar medium – ISM – but present rotational parameters not precise enough to allow their detection in the ISM. Therefore, we use GACELA to measure the rotational spectrum of molecular species in the frequency ranges 31.5–50 GHz (Q band) and 72–116.5 GHz (W band) in the laboratory. At the same time, we support these spectroscopic studies with high-level ab initio calculations. Finally, we use the derived experimental rotational parameters to allow the search of these molecular species in astrophysical environments.

We have complemented the GACELA experiments with other techniques like laser ablation molecular beam Fourier transform microwave (FTMW) spectroscopy at UVA, absorption spectroscopy and cryogenic trapping machine experiments.

Far below, we show a summary table on the performed experimental characterizations and techniques.

NANOCOSMOS workshops/meetings


NANOCOSMOS Interstellar Dust Meeting

Date: 12 – 13 June 2017

Place: Université Paul Sabatier (Toulouse, France)

Key dates: 

Abstract submission deadline: April 30th, 2017

Registration deadline: May 14th, 2017



European Conference on Laboratory AstrophysicsGas on the Rocks (ECLA2016)

Outcome of the conference: See “A summary of the ECLA2016” link

November 21 – 25, 2016 (CSIC Headquarters, Madrid, Spain)

Webpage: ECLA2016


Key dates:
Second announcement:  February 1st, 2016 (opening of the conference web page).
Deadline for abstract submission: June 15, 2016
Deadline for early registration: July 15, 2016
Deadline for information participants about selected contributing talks: June 30, 2016
Final program: July 15, 2016
Last announcement with final details: November 1st, 2016


Over the last decade, European research activities in the field of laboratory astrophysics have experienced an impressive increase in their potential to address astrophysical problems, in particular by providing essential information on the physical and chemical processes leading to chemical complexity in space resulting in star and planet formation. These activities have been motivated by the interpretation of astronomical observations obtained with single dish telescopes and short baseline interferometers. The wealth of data obtained with ALMA, space facilities (Herschel, Spitzer, Rosetta, the coming JWST, E-ELT), and other ground based observatories (VLTI, NOEMA, …), require new methodologies for the astrophysical modeling that will lead to new challenges for laboratory astrophysics.

This conference aims to address the state of the art in laboratory astrophysics within the context of these new astrophysical data and to improve communication and collaboration between astrophysicists, physicists and (geo) chemists. Hence, the conference structure will consist of invited talks presenting topics in astrophysics and planetary science and related laboratory astrophysics activities. Contributing talks will be selected to complement the topics from the astrophysical, laboratory, and theoretical/modeling points of view.

The astrophysical areas that will be addressed are:

Comets, asteroids, meteorites and the primitive Solar System nebula: formation and evolution
Protoplanetary disks and planet formation
Planet, Moon, and exoplanet surfaces and atmospheres
The signatures of the evolving interstellar medium
Dense Clouds: the gas-ice interface
Chemical fingerprints of star formation
The late stages of star evolution: dust formation
Supernovae and shocks: high-energy processing of matter

The conference will cover studies in many fields such as spectroscopy, analytical (geo) chemistry, reactivity, nanoscience, and quantum chemistry, pertaining to different matter components (gas, plasma, PAHs, ices, dust, solid surfaces, …).

SOC composition
Jose Cernicharo (chair). ICMM-CSIC, Madrid, Spain
Christine Joblin (co-chair). IRAP, Univ. Paul Sabatier/CNRS, Toulouse, France
Isabel Tanarro. IEM-CSIC, Madrid, Spain
Jose Angel Martín Gago. ICMM-CSIC, Madrid, Spain
Karine Demyk. IRAP, Univ. Paul Sabatier/CNRS, Toulouse, France
Jean-Hugues Fillion. LERMA, UPCM Univ.  Paris 06, & Obs. Paris, France
Maria Elisabetta Palumbo. INAF-Catania Astrophysical Obs., Italy
André Canosa. IPR, Univ. Rennes 1/CNRS, France
Harold Linnartz. Leiden Obs., Univ. of Leiden, The Netherlands
Liv Hornekaer. iNANO, Aarhus Univ., Danemark
Peter Sarre. School of Chemistry, Nottingham Univ., UK
Stephan Schlemmer. Phys. Inst., Univ. Koln, Germany
Jonathan Tennyson. Univ. College London, UK
Yves Marrochi. CRPG-CNRS, Nancy, France
Guillermo Muñoz Caro. CAB, INTA-CSIC, Madrid, Spain

LOC composition
Isabel Tanarro (Chair). IEM-CSIC, Madrid, Spain
Belén Maté. IEM-CSIC, Madrid, Spain
Víctor J. Herrero. IEM-CSIC, Madrid, Spain
José Luis Doménech. IEM-CSIC, Madrid, Spain
Ángel González-Valdenebro. IEM-CSIC, Madrid, Spain
Marcelo Castellanos (co-chair). ICMM-CSIC, Madrid, Spain
Belén Tercero.  ICMM-CSIC, Madrid, Spain
Juan Ramón Pardo. ICMM-CSIC, Madrid, Spain
Juan Antonio Corbalán. ICMM-CSIC, Madrid, Spain
Natalia Ruiz-Zelmanovich. ICMM-CSIC, Madrid, Spain

HEMT receivers

The 40m radio telescope at the Yebes Observatory

Outstanding publications on our innovative development

Yebes 40 m radio telescope and the broad band NANOCOSMOS receivers at 7 mm and 3 mm for line surveys (F. Tercero, J. A. López-Pérez, J. D. Gallego and 23 co-authors, A&A, 01/2021)


  • Two new cryogenic receivers for the 31.5 − 50 GHz (Q frequency band) and the 72 − 90.5 GHz (W band).
  • A new optical circuit for the W band receiver with its mirrors, new mirrors for the Q band receiver, and a new hot-cold load calibration system.
  • Instantaneous frequency coverage to observe many molecular transitions with single tunings in single dish mode: 1) Optimization of the observing time; 2) Increase in the radio telescope output efficiency; 3) Boost in data sensitivity in comparison with previous Nobeyama (Japan) 45 m telescope surveys (less than 1 mK versus 5 mK in the Nobeyama data).

Nanocosmos has developed an experimental set-up, the Gas Cell for Laboratory Astrophysics –GACELA that operates under vacuum conditions, in order to mimick the molecular processes underlying chemical reactions of astrophysical interest. We are in particular interested in those processes occurring at the dust formation zone of AGB stars. 

We observe molecular processes in-situ by using the new NANOCOSMOS mm broad band radio astronomical receivers, which results advantageous in terms of spectral resolution and sensitivity. We have successfully applied this innovation at the 40 m radio telescope at the Yebes Observatory. Therefore, we have designed, constructed and commissioned new Q and W band receivers to foster the radio telescope capabilities and to provide wider bandwidth and better spectral resolution. The development of this instrumentation is a key aspect of the Nanocosmos project and is already providing outstanding results with the discovery of multiple molecular species.

Key Yebes internal reports to show the developments and upgrades of this instrumentation.