AAS 196th Meeting, June 2000
Session 22. Ushering in a New Era: Laboratory Astrophysics with Intense Lasers
Topical Session Oral, Tuesday, June 6, 2000, 8:30-10:00am, 10:45am-12:30pm, 2:00-3:30pm, 3:45-5:30pm, Highland A/K

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[22.04] An Overview of Laser Astrophysics: Experiments

R.P. Drake (University of Michigan)

Recent years have seen the emergence of a new approach to the laboratory simulation of astrophysical phenomena. Current experiments are designed to address, with good dimensionless scaling, specific physical issues that matter to the astrophysics. Most such experiments use lasers, hence the term "Laser Astrophysics", but Z pinches are also emerging as an energy source. Two developments have made such experiments possible. The first of these is the ability of modern lasers to produce shock velocities, and post-shock sound speeds, of order 100 km/s in macroscopic systems. The second is the ability to diagnose the structure in such systems, by x-ray radiography, x-ray spectroscopy, and other techniques. This talk will provide an introduction to such experiments and an overview of their results. Most of the experiments to date have focused upon hydrodynamic phenomena, since there is naturally a close analog between astrophysical systems and laser fusion systems. Such experiments have addressed, for example, hydrodynamic instabilities in core-collapse supernova explosions, and the hydrodynamic evolution and instabilities in supernova remnants. Some work has extended into the regime of radiative hydrodynamics, including for example studies of jets that radiatively collapse and new work on hydrodynamically driven, radiative-precursor shocks. Design work on experiments to detect particle acceleration in collisionless shocks has also been reported. In addition, work has been undertaken in the area of radiative effects, in which experiments have focused on radiation transport, including photon transport in velocity gradients and plasma production by photoionization. In the area of relativistic systems, which can potentially be accessed using very intense, short-pulse lasers, a number of design studies have explored the connections of potential experiments with astrophysical systems. This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and the University of Michigan.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: rpdrake@umich.edu

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