CfA Research: Laboratory Astrophysics

Science is successful because the physical laws we discover on Earth work everywhere and everywhen. We use laboratory experiments to expand our understanding of physical processes and then apply these results to the processes throughout the Universe. In some cases laboratory experiments can reproduce similar physics. For example, highly charged plasmas can be created in the laboratory to study the collisions between electrons and ions that occur in the hot solar corona. In other cases, such as in the extreme environments of black holes, we cannot reproduce the conditions. However, even in those cases, the pattern of observed spectral signatures allows us to identify the species and determine some of the physical conditions and processes. Spectral features observed in the solar corona are also observed from black hole sources.

  Laboratory Astrophysics Spetrum

Theoretical spectrum of a planetary nebula, including lines of Hydrogen and neutral and ionized Helium.
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