Faculty of Physics

Experimental Astrophysics

Research in experimental astrophysics is centred on problems of planet formation, but also considers full-size planets like Mercury and Mars. The focus is on the interaction of dust particles among themselves, with surrounding gas and with radiation. For the first time, dedicated collision experiments on CO2 ice particles were carried out. Further work was centred on photophoretic effects, where particles in thin gas can be moved by irradiation. Besides a fundamental description, which for the first time attained the necessary precision required to describe further applications in the context of particle transport in protoplanetary disks, it could be shown that thermal radiation through temperature fluctuations in the disks can play an important role. One of the most interesting findings from microgravity experiments conducted at the Bremen Drop Tower  concerns evidence of thermal creep gas flow through a dust bed. This implies that Martian soil acts as a planet-wide gas pump, which is relevant for the soil-atmosphere interface.