Laboratory Astrophysics

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The main aim of laboratory astrophysics is to perform experiments in the laboratory under conditions that reproduce some aspects of interstellar, circumstellar or planetary atmospheric environments. Laboratory astrophysics complements and supports astronomical observations via a combination of experiments, numerical simulations and theory. This discipline is naturally linked to modern observational techniques, from ground-based telescopes to space missions, including in-situ analysis of extra-terrestrial objects by interplanetary probes. Laboratory astrophysics also makes use of large-scale instruments of physics such as synchrotron radiation facilities, high energy lasers, and sophisticated analytical tools. Laboratory astrophysics fosters collaboration between astronomers, astrophysicists, geochemists, chemists and physicists from different backgrounds.

One of our experimental chambers

The Rennes group employs state of the art experimental techniques, some of them unique, to understand the nature of molecules through their spectral signature, and their formation path through their chemistry in these often extreme environments, with temperatures ranging from 10 K (-263°C) to thousands of degrees. Our research is focused in two main areas:

– Infrared spectroscopy –

– Chemical kinetics –

In addition to the University of Rennes 1 and the CNRS, our research activities are supported by a variety of national programs (Physique et Chimie du Milieu Interstellaire, Programme National de Planétologie, Programme National de Physique Stellaire). Our laboratory is also member of the European Task Force for Laboratory Astrophysics, which has as its aim to structure Laboratory Astrophysics on the European scale.

In parallel to our research work, we carry out public outreach activities to promote laboratory astrophysics.