SSP: Experimental Astrophysics

For nearly 100 years, there has been a strong synergy between astronomical observations and laboratory experiments conducted on the Earth. When astronomers measure light from a distant object, the rates that atoms and molecules emit light tells us how many atoms and molecules the object contains. Sometimes (as in the hydrogen atom), we can calculate the rates directly. Usually, though, we need to produce conditions in an Earth-bound lab that mimic conditions beyond the Earth. Measuring the emission rates in the lab allows us to deduce the appropriate rates in space and to learn about the physical conditions in distant objects.

SSP scientists continue the tradition of deriving the properties of astrophysically interesting atoms, ions, and molecules. In the Ion Beam Lab, scientists measure emission rates and reaction rates for collisions among ions in the Sun and other plasmas. In the Electron-Beam Ion Trap (EBIT) Lab, scientists are studying astrophysically interesting ions in new ways.


Project Links

Astrophysical Plasma Emission Database (APED)
Electron-Beam Ion Trap (EBIT) Spectroscopy
Ion Beam Lab



Nigel Atkins, Nancy Brickhouse, Larry Gardner, John L. Kohl, John Raymond, Richard Rosati


In the Ion Beam Lab, scientists measure the properties of atoms and molecules.
Learn more ...


Section Photo