Catherine Walsh studies molecules in space across the spectrum of molecular sources: from interstellar clouds – the birth places of stars, to protoplanetary disks and planetary atmospheres, and even circumstellar envelopes around dying stars. Molecules have huge prebiotic significance since they are the elementary building blocks of planetary systems. “I am interested in fundamental astrochemical processes, i.e., how molecules are formed and destroyed in different environments, and how they can be used to probe the physical conditions in the diverse range of extreme environments in which they survive. Molecules are a unique and powerful tool in astronomy.”
She also makes use of high-spatial and high-spectral resolution observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array which is currently revolutionizing the field of star and planet formation. She is principal investigator of four ALMA programs, two of which concern the investigation of the gas and dust structure of protoplanetary disks around intermediate-mass stars that also show signatures of embedded planets and ongoing planet formation. The second two programs are a deep search for the complex organic ice reservoir in disks around nearby Sun-like stars, to help answer questions regarding the origin of complex molecules in planetary systems.
Walsh holds a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the Astrophysics Research Centre, School of Mathematics and Physics, Queen’s University Belfast and is currently a University Academic Fellow at the University of Leeds, and based in the Astrophysics Group in the School of Physics and Astronomy.
Sessions as a Speaker
- Marriott Marquis