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


Current laboratory projects (see also: Projects: Current: FIR Dust Opacity)

Optical constants of iron compounds (C. Kranhold)

  • Project within DFG Research Unit 2285 ``Debris Disks in Planetary Systems'', Phase II, P5
  • Collaboration with Institut für Geowissenschaften (FSU), F. Langenhorst, D. Harries

THz absorption of carbonaceous materials (J. Greif)

  • Collaboration with I. Phys. Institut der Universität zu Köln (Cologne), F. Lewen, F. Eupen
  • Publications
    - J. Greif, H. Mutschke, F. Eupen, F. Lewen, ``Temperature Dependent Laboratory Measurements of the Far-Infrared to MM Opacities of Amorphous Carbonaceous Dust Analogues'', EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019, EPSC Abstracts Vol. 13, EPSC-DPS2019-1510-1

Optical constants of water ice (D. Häßner, H.Mutschke)

  • Collaboration with Institut für Geophysik und extraterrestrische Physik (TU Braunschweig), J. Blum, and with
  • Arbeitsgruppe Laborastrophysik des MPIA Heidelberg am IFK (FSU), C. Jäger, A. Potapov
  • Publications
    - D. Häßner, H. Mutschke, J. Blum, T. Zeller, B. Gundlach ``Laboratory measurements of the sub-millimetre opacity of amorphous and micro-particulate H2O ices for temperatures above 80 K'', MNRAS ,481, 5022, 2018
    - A. Potapov, H. Mutschke, P. Seeber, T. Henning, C. Jäger, ``Low-temperature Optical Properties of Interstellar and Circumstellar Icy Silicate Grain Analogs in the Mid-infrared Spectral Region'', ApJ, 861, id. 84, 2018
    - C. Reinert, H. Mutschke, A. Krivov, T. Löhne, P. Mohr, ``Absorption of crystalline water ice in the far infrared at different temperatures'', Astron. Astrophys., 573, A29, 2015

Far-IR absorption of amorphous and crystalline silicates (P.Mohr)

  • Project within DFG Priority Programme ``Physics of the Interstellar Medium''
  • Collaboration with I. Phys. Institut der Universität zu Köln (Cologne), F. Lewen, T. Dressler
  • Publications
    - H. Mutschke, P. Mohr, ``Far-infrared continuum absorption of forsterite and enstatite at low temperatures'', Astron. Astrophys., 625, A61, 2019
    - S. Zeidler, H. Mutschke, Th. Posch, ``Temperature-dependent infrared optical constants of olivine and enstatite'', Astrophys. J., 798, 125, 2015
    - H. Mutschke, S. Zeidler, H. Chihara, ``Low-temperature absorption of olivine at far-infrared wavelengths'', Earth Planets Space, 65, 1139-1143, 2013

Particle optics

  • Collaboration with Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology (IPHT), Jena, S. Höfer, Th. Mayerhöfer, and
  • Kirchhoff Institute for Physics, Heidelberg University, A. Tamanai, A. Pucci
  • Publications
    - S. Höfer, H. Mutschke, Th. G. Mayerhöfer, ``Effects of anisotropy on absorption cross-section spectra of medium-sized spheroidal corundum particles'', Astron. Astrophys., 646, A87, 2021
    - A. Tamanai, J.Vogt, C. Huck, U. Mick, S. Zimmermann, R. Tazaki, H. Mutschke, A. Pucci, ``Experimental verification of agglomeration effects in infrared spectra on micron-sized particles'', Astron. Astrophys. 619, A110, 2018
    - H. Mutschke, M. Min, and A. Tamanai, ``Laboratory-based grain shape models for simulating dust infrared spectra'', Astron. Astrophys., 504, 875, 2009
    - A. Tamanai, H. Mutschke, J. Blum, Th. Posch, C. Koike, and J.W. Ferguson, ``Morphological Effects on IR Band Profiles: Experimental spectroscopic analysis with applications to observed spectra of oxygen-rich AGB stars'', Astron. Astrophys., 501, 251, 2009

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