Laboratory astrophysics is one of the youngest branches of astrophysics. Its name was coined about 30 years ago in order to denote the investigation of the solid phases in astrophysical environments by laboratory simulation experiments. Today, this new field has developed to a kind of galactic material science.
Main topics of this field are:
- the absorption and emission spectra of dust, molecules, ions, and radicals
- the "mineralogy" of dust particles and its relation to their optical properties
- reactions of molecules and ions in the gas phase as well as on grain surfaces
- interaction of dust grains with UV and ion radiation as well as heat, leading to structural changes
- properties of interplanetary dust, cometary and meteoritic grains
- aggregation, growth and destruction of dust grains leading to planet formation