The trail of sulphur: from molecular clouds to life

Sulphur is the tenth most abundant element in the Universe and is known to play a significant role in biological systems. Moreover, some sulphur compounds have been proposed as necessary catalysts to form amino acids in the interstellar medium. However, while the carbon and oxygen budgets have been extensively studied, sulphur is the only element whose gas-phase abundance is still uncertain by several orders of magnitude, hindering the usage of elemental sulphur abundance as a reliable tool to probe planet formation. This lack of information is  due to the scarcity of  observations, specially in protoplanetary  disks, and the still large uncertainties in the sulphur chemical network. This project takes a decisive step to fix our knowledge of the sulphur chemistry with an innovative methodology that rests on three pillars: (i) To create an unprecedented database of high quality observations of sulphur-bearing molecules which allows us to trace the sulphur content from the natal molecular clouds to protoplanetary disks.  (ii) To perform ab initio calculations and laboratory experiments to estimate the key reaction rates that are needed to fix  the sulphur network and make chemical models reliable. Now, we know that the chemical composition of planet-forming disks is to a large extent inherited from the earliest phases of star formation. (iii) To perform bi-fluid (gas+dust) 3D magneto-hydrodynamics simulations with chemistry coupled  (chemo-MHD) to follow the chemical evolution of  the material  from the natal cloud to the planet-forming sites, and hence, to obtain accurate chemical predictions. At the end, this project will disentangle how sulphur was delivered to protoplanetary disks, which is an essential step to understand planet formation and the emergence of life.