Laboratory astrophysics is one of the youngest branches of astrophysics. The name was coined about 40 years ago in order to denote the investigation of the solid phases in astrophysical environments by laboratory simulation experiments.Today, the field has developed into a broad ensemble of interdisciplinary laboratory efforts aiming at a better understanding of the physics and chemistry of interstellar and circumstellar media (e.g. interstellar clouds, protoplanetary disks, the solar system).

"Astrochemistry" or "Astromineralogy" are terms which also describe the work done in the individual laboratories. An important goal is also to provide direct support for the interpretation of astronomical observations. Other astrophysical laboratories in Germany are located for instance at

The laboratory at the AIU Jena was founded by Johann Dorschner and Thomas Henning in 1992 by help of the Max Planck Society. Since then, main topics of our work are:

  • the "mineralogy" of dust particles and its relation to their optical properties -> see the Database of Optical Constants
  • the spectra of dust particles, influenced e.g. by temperature and by grain morphology
  • interaction of dust grains with UV and ion radiation as well as thermal influences, leading to structural modification

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