Laboratory Astrophysics

A Bomem DA8 Fourier spectrometer is used for spectroscopic studies of astrophysical dust analogs and constituents of planetary atmospheres. The instrumental resources cover the spectral range 4 to 55000 cm^-1 (or 2.2 mm to 180 nm wavelength) at a maximum spectral resolution of 0.017 cm^-1 in transmission, reflection, or emission. The entire optical path is evacuated to a pressure of 0.1 Torr to eliminate water vapor absorption features in the infrared. Techniques of note include cryogenic sample temperatures to 1.7 K, vapor cells with 10 cm to 10 m path length, heated cell for study of low-vapor pressure materials, KBr and polyethylene pellet fabrication for transmission measurements of suspended sub-micron mineral particles, and discharge cavity for emission spectroscopy of microwave excited plasmas. Current projects include NASA-funded spectral characterization of mineral particles in support of projected Herschel Space Observatory data return.

Researcher: Robert E. Peale