Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Jeremy Darling

Second Advisor

Erica Ellingson

Third Advisor

Andreas Becker


This project explores radio spectroscopy of atoms and molecules in the interstellar medium, and specifically aims to discover if Raman spectroscopy is possible in the astrophysical laboratory. Raman spectroscopy is common in ground laboratories, but its use in an astrophysical application is unproven due to the necessity of a high-intensity laser source. Our solution was to employ the water maser in W49N to search for Raman lines in a natural setting. This region was observed with the Green Bank Telescope in the K (18.0 —27.5 GHz), the Ka-band (26.0 —39.5 GHz), and the Q-band (38.2 —49.8 GHz) and the spectral lines of interest were the ones that could not be matched to an entry in the Splatalogue (National Radio Astronomy Observatory‘s spectral line database), as Raman lines would not yet be in an astronomical catalog. This project analyzes 2,226 spectral lines and offers one strong Raman candidate, but is unable to confirm it through observations of the other Raman-shifted transitions of that molecule.