Laboratory astrophysics

Laboratory astrophysics is the study of astrophysical phenomena in the laboratory (Earth- or space-based). This might include various aspects of astrochemistry (chemical reactions under extreme conditions of temperature, density, irradiation), plasma physics, spectroscopy, meteorite analysis, fluid dynamics, and magnetohydrodynamics.

Latest Research and Reviews

News and Comment

  • News & Views |

    A laser–plasma experiment has recreated shock waves in collisionless, weakly magnetized conditions and evidenced electron acceleration to relativistic energies, offering unprecedented insight into a long-standing problem in astrophysics.

    • Laurent Gremillet
    •  & Martin Lemoine
    Nature Physics 16, 901-903
  • Comments & Opinion |

    In 2010, the Spitzer Space Telescope detected evidence of a complex form of carbon that had never been seen in extraterrestrial environments. Jan Cami recounts the discovery of buckminsterfullerene in space.

    • Paul Woods
    Nature Astronomy 4, 299-305
  • News & Views |

    Planets are assembled from the ground up, beginning with millimetre-sized interstellar dust grains. Microgravity experiments suggest that centimetre-sized dust aggregates form from these smaller grains via collisional charging.

    • Katherine Follette
    Nature Physics 16, 124-125
  • News & Views |

    For years, much of our understanding of the formation of circumstellar aromatic molecules has been based on laboratory flame studies. Now, results acquired using a novel experimental technique suggest that circumstellar aromatics might not be formed under the conditions we thought they were.

    • Michael Gatchell
    Nature Astronomy 4, 21-22