Atomic Astrophysics is a new research field at the Faculty
of Sciences, Lund University, located at Lund Observatory.
The scientific research and staff have their roots and tradition
in the former Division of Atomic Spectroscopy, Department
of Physics, with a long history from the days of Janne Rydberg
at the turn of the 19th century. Rydberg’s explanation
of spectral line series contributed significantly to Bohr’s
model of the atom.
At the same time as atomic spectroscopy and atomic structure
are central fields in our scientific research the interaction
with and application to astrophysics constitute the major
driving force. This means that the successful research program
in laboratory spectroscopy built up by Bengt Edlén
at Lund University will continue in the form of Atomic Astrophysics.
Very early in his career Edlén applied his basic research
on atomic structure to astrophysics, and his most imortant
contribution was the explanation of the “forbidden lines”
in the solar corona. His successor,
Indrek Martinson, broadened the program by introducing beam-foil
spectroscopy and fusion related research.
Around 1985 Sveneric Johansson started interactive collaborations
with astrophysicists and a new group, including many new graduate
students, was formed in the 1990’s. They provided atomic
data for David Leckrone’s, NASA, ambitious program on
the Hubble Space Telescope, and his collaborator, Glenn Wahlgren,
joined the group in Lund in 1994. The laboratory work was
led by Ulf Litzén, and most data came from a new Fourier
transform spectrometer. Vladilen Letokhov, a world-leading
laser physicist, joined the group as the “Tage Erlander
Professor 2000” and he has since then been a guest professor
in our division. Spectroscopy can also be used to study atomic
processes in fluorescence tubes in order to understand and
improve their properties. An activity, which includes both
basic research and industrial applications, was initiated in
our division 2000 by Sven Huldt. In 2005 a new Fourier transform spectrometer
was purchased optimized for infrared wavelengths.