Our journey will bring us to study the metal and dust content in Interstellar Medium (ISM) of nearby and distant galaxies. We will mostly use absorption-line spectroscopy of optical and UV observations of Quasars, gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), Superluminous supernovae (SLSNe), and stars, from high-resolution spectrographs of the Very Large Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope.

Scientific themes:

What is the metallicity of the cool ISM in our own Galaxy? And can we observe a metallicity gradient? How are ISM and stellar abundances related? What are the cool ISM metallicities in the Magellanic Clouds? What are the ISM metallicities of distant galaxies? How is the α-element enhancement distribution in distant galaxies? What are the nucleosynthesis signatures in the ISM of distant galaxies, and out to the epoch of reionization? Can we observe the signature of PopIII stars in the high-z ISM?

What is the metal and dust enrichment of individual ISM clouds, rather than the integrated gas properties, in galaxies? Can we disentangle outflows from infalling gas and bound ISM based on the chemical properties of individual clouds, from low to high-z? How do the properties of individual clouds in the local ISM compare with the dust distribution and physical topography of the Galaxy? Can we characterize the closer environment of extreme stellar explosions?

What is the dust extinction that we can predict from absorption-line studies? Can this be used solidly both at low and high z, and for SN studies? What is the carbon and titanium content in dust that we can infer from absorption-line studies? Are iron and iron oxides really the dominant non-carbonaceous dust species as dust depletion indicates? Can we model the dust content in the ISM of different environments? How are the dust properties at high z?


  • The Galaxy
  • Magellanic Clouds
  • SLSN host galaxies
  • GRB host galaxies
  • Damped Lyman-alpha absorbers

The project “INTERSTELLAR ONE. One vision for the interstellar medium at all cosmic times” is supported by a PRIMA grant of the Swiss National Science Foundation starting January 2020.

Damped Lyman-alpha absorbers