Nitrogen Fractionation in Space

A workshop organised as part of the EU/COST action CM1401 "Our Astrochemical Heritage"
at the Niels Bohr Institute and Centre for Star and Planet Formation at University of Copenhagen
2017 November 8-9


Nitrogen Fractionation in Space

Scientific rationale



One of the current challenges in astrochemistry is to follow the chemical composition of a starless core during its evolution towards a planetary system and identify, in primitive objects of the Solar System, residual materials from the original cloud. Nitrogen, the fifth most abundant element in the Universe, exists naturally as a highly volatile gas (N2, N) and a mixture of compounds of different volatility (NH3, HCN, HNC, etc).

The nitrogen volatile isotopologues in the protosolar nebula may have been fractionated with respect to the original interstellar material. In our Solar System, any object (besides Jupiter) is enriched in 15N compared to the protosolar nebula. Large excesses in 15N have been found in organic material of chondrites and interplanetary dust particles. Species in cometary coma also appear to be 15N enriched.

The variations in the nitrogen isotopic composition in Solar System objects may be caused by a variety of effects, including Galactic nucleosynthesis, photochemical self-shielding, spallation reactions caused by the irradiation of the young sun and low temperature chemistry. If the effects of these mechanisms are properly understood, the relative abundances and isotopic compositions of the different N-bearing species in various astronomical sources may provide useful clues to the physical origin and early evolution of the Solar System.

The purpose of this two-day workshop is to gather different communities (astronomers, chemists, physicists) working on the problem of nitrogen isotopic fractionation in the interstellar medium to discuss the current understanding of different fractionation mechanisms, the variations between the objects in our Solar System, the link between the problems of N- and D-fractionation and the challenges observationally, theoretical and experimental that we are facing.

The workshop is organised by Charlotte Vastel and Jes Jørgensen within the framework of EU/COST network CM-1401 "Our Astrochemical Heritage" and hosted by Centre for Star and Planet Formation and the Niels Bohr Institute at University of Copenhagen.


Workshop Logistics

Here you can find information about how to register for the workshop, about the logistics etc.


We aim for approximately 25 participants of which about 15 persons will be reimbursed following the COST rules. To register send a one page abstract to no later than June 15th. The selection of participants will be made shortly thereafter. In your registration, please indicate whether you need financial support from COST.


The scientific program for the workshop is organised by Charlotte Vastel and Jes Jørgensen. You can contact us through the E-mail below.


The workshop will be held at the Natural History Museum of Denmark located in the centre of Copenhagen. The museum is easily reached in about 15 minutes by Metro or regular train from Copenhagen Airport to Nørreport Station. We will not organise a block reservation of hotel rooms, but there are plenty of options in the vicinity of the museum. The workshop will start around 9am on Wednesday November 8th and end in the mid-afternoon on Thursday November 9th in order to ensure that the participants can catch flights back that same evening

Workshop dinner

In the evening of November 8th, we will organise a workshop dinner at the Natural History Museum sponsored by Centre for Star and Planet Formation.


Workshop Participants



Workshop Program


Wednesday November 8th
09:00-09:15Welcome and logistics
09:15-10:00Nitrogen fractionation and formation of the Solar SystemCharnley
10:00-10:15Questions and discussion: what are the outstanding questions and challenges concerning N-fractionation?(Hily-Blant)
10:15-10:45Coffee break
10:45-11:30Observations of nitrogen fractionation in dense star-forming coresFontani
11:30-12:15The nitrogen isotopic composition of embedded protostars and first results on the 14NH3/15NH3 in comet 67PWampfler
13:30-14:15Isotopic reservoirs of nitrogen from cores to disks: recent results and new questionsHily-Blant
14:15-14:40Nitrogen Isotopic ratio from prestellar cores to disksMagalhães
14:40-15:0515N fractionation in infrared-dark cloud coresZeng
15:05-15:30Exploring the Origins of Nitrogen in Terrestrial WorldsRice
15:30-16:00Coffee break
16:00-16:45Measurement of nitrogen fractionation in Solar System objectsRousselot
16:45-17:30Tracing the formation pathways of prebiotic organics in chondritesvan Kooten
17:30-18:00Discussion: what are the available constraints from observations and cosmochemical measurements? (Charnley)
18:00- Workshop dinner


Thursday November 9th
09:00-09:45Nitrogen and carbon fractionation in space: a chemical approachLoison
09:45-10:30Models of nitrogen fractionation in depletion coresWirström
10:30-11:00Coffee break
11:00-11:25Constraining the accretion regions of meteorite parent bodies via astrochemical modelling of protoplanetary disksRamsey
11:25-12:00Discussion: what is needed in terms of models?(Loison)
13:00-13:45Submillimetre-wave spectroscopy or light nitrogen-bearing radicals and ionsBizzochi
13:45-14:30Submillimeterwave spectoscopy of N-bearing complex organic molecules in LilleMargules
14:30-15:00 Final discussion: where do we go next?(Vastel & Jørgensen)



Feel Free to Contact Us

If you have any questions feel free to contact us on the E-mail below.