Far-Infrared Spectroscopy: Herschel, SOFIA, ALMA and Beyond

The formation of stars and planetary systems takes place in “molecular clouds”, dense, cold regions of the interstellar medium that exhibit a high degree of molecular complexity. Spectroscopic observations in the far-infrared/submillimeter spectral range allow studies of the physical conditions and chemistry in diffuse and dense clouds, protostellar disks, and solar system objects, such as comets. Herschel opened for the first time the far-infrared spectral range to high-resolution spectroscopy. I discuss selected spectroscopic results obtained using the HIFI instrument, as well as future prospects for continuing such studies with ALMA and SOFIA.

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