Molecules in galaxies

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Omont, Alain
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The main achievements, current developments and prospects of molecular studies in external galaxies are reviewed. They are put in the context of the results of several decades of studies of molecules in local interstellar medium, their chemistry and their importance for star formation. CO observations have revealed the gross structure of molecular gas in galaxies. Together with other molecules, they are among the best tracers of star formation at galactic scales. Our knowledge about molecular abundances in various local galactic environments is progressing. They trace physical conditions and metallicity, and they are closely related to dust processes and large aromatic molecules. Major recent developments include mega-masers, and molecules in Active Galactic Nuclei; millimetre emission of molecules at very high redshift; and infrared H2 emission as tracer of warm molecular gas, shocks and photodissociation regions. The advent of sensitive giant interferometers from the centimetre to sub-millimetre range, especially ALMA in the near future in the mm/submm range, will open a new area for molecular studies in galaxies and their use to trace star formation at all distances.
Comment: 96 pages, 11 figures
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Astrophysics
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