Lund Observatory

department of Astronomy and Theoretical Physics

Atomic astrophysics

Atomic Astrophysics

Atomic astrophysics integrates atomic physics with astrophysics and plasma physics, aiming at investigations of the atomic structure of the elements and spectroscopic diagnostics of plasmas. Basic research is applied to astrophysical and laboratory plasmas by using spectroscopic techniques. Atomic astrophysics has been adopted as a research branch within the Faculty of Sciences. We present our activity under three different domains: Atomic Spectroscopy, Stellar Spectroscopy, and Industrial Spectroscopy.
We participate in numerous international and national projects. For example, during the last decade we have had a lively collaboration with NASA. Our division is part of Lund Laser Centre.
The research program is since many years continuously supported by the Swedish Science Council and the Swedish National Space Board.

Atomic Spectroscopy

Light is the information carrier both for atoms and stars. By analysing the spectral distribution of the light, the line spectrum, we can understand the atomic structure and other atomic properties. The goal of our work is twofold: i) To determine the atomic structure (energy levels) of atoms and atomic ions experimentally and ii) to provide experimental data on atomic parameters (wavelengths and oscillator strengths) of relevance for stellar and plasma spectroscopy. A modern set of experimental equipment for laboratory spectroscopy is available.

Stellar Spectroscopy

The relationship between atomic and stellar spectroscopy is exemplified through research activities involving both astrophysical absorption and emission line spectra. Laboratory data are used to interpret stellar spectra obtained at both ground-based (e.g. NOT and ESO) and space-borne (HST and FUSE) observatories. The analysis of absorption line spectra results in the determination of the chemical composition of stars. Current projects include the sun, chemically peculiar (CP) stars, and galactic halo stars.
The analysis of emission line spectra concerns primarily studies of radiative processes, such as fluorescence and laser activity, in low-density regions around stars. Current projects include Eta Carinae and symbiotic stars.

Industrial Spectroscopy

Atomic spectroscopy is widely used as a diagnostic tool in various applications in research and industry. We are participating in a number of such projects in close collaboration with industrial partners. The projects are ranging from investigation and modelling of low-pressure plasmas in fluorescent tubes to instrumentation for remote diagnostics of metallurgical processes in steel furnaces. The applications often require dedicated instruments, which are designed and built in house.

People active in this field include:

Henrik Hartman
Hampus Nilsson
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