IAU Focus Meetings (GA)

FM 12: Bridging Laboratory Astrophysics and Astronomy

Start date/time

August 3, 2015

End date/time

August 5, 2015


United States


Farid Salama

Coordinating Division

Division B Facilities, Technologies and Data Science

Other Divisions:

B, D, E, F, G, H

Co-Chairs of SOC:
Farid Salama (NASA-Ames Research Center)
Lyudmila Mashonkina (Institute of Astronomy RA)
Steven Federman (University of Toledo)


  • Atoms in interstellar matter, stellar spectra, stellar and planetary atmospheres, interplanetary plasma and heliosphere, meteors, meteorites and interplanetary dust, space and high-energy astrophysics.
  • Molecules in interstellar matter, stellar spectra, stellar and planetary atmospheres, meteors, meteorites and interplanetary dust, astrochemistry and bioastronomy.
  • Dust and ices in interstellar matter, planetary surfaces, meteors, meteorites and interplanetary dust, astrochemistry and bioastronomy.
  • Plasmas in interstellar matter, stellar spectra, stellar atmospheres, interplanetary plasma and heliosphere, meteors, space and high-energy astrophysics, meteorites and interplanetary dust.
  • Nuclei and particles in stellar spectra, stellar atmospheres, space and high-energy astrophysics.


Astronomy is primarily an observational science detecting photons generated by atomic, molecular, chemical, and condensed matter processes. Our understanding of the universe also relies on knowledge of the evolution of matter (nuclear and particle physics) and of the dynamical processes shaping it (plasma physics). Planetary science, involving in-situ measurements of solar system bodies, requires knowledge from physics, chemistry, and geology. Exploring the question of life elsewhere in the Universe draws on all the above as well as biology. Hence, our quest to understand the cosmos rests firmly on theoretical and experimental research in many different branches of science. Taken together, these astrophysically motivated theoretical and experimental studies are known as laboratory astrophysics.

Laboratory astrophysics is the Rosetta stone that enables astronomers to understand and interpret the cosmos. This Focus Meeting will discuss the strong interplay between astronomy and astrophysics with theoretical and experimental studies into the underlying atomic, molecular, dust and ices, plasma, planetary science, nuclear and particle physics processes, which drive our Universe.

Given the current major development of next-generation facilities and projects, such as e.g. the JVLA, SKA, ALMA, Pan-STARRS, LSST, JWST, the proposed Focus Meeting is intended to synthesize the state-of-the art of the field of laboratory astrophysics, and discuss open questions to be solved in the next decade. In particular, the meeting will stress how laboratory studies can best address the needs of astronomy and stimulate new observations. The proposed Focus Meeting will be divided into sessions that will discuss atomic and molecular data, plasma physics, nuclear physics, and particle physics and their application to various fields, such as interplanetary, interstellar, and intergalactic matter, planetary and stellar atmospheres.

The upcoming IAU GA will be held in Hawaii in close coordination with the AAS. The IAU Comm. 14 Atomic and Molecular Data and the AAS LAD have coordinated their efforts to submit a proposal for a joint meeting at the next GA in the form of a Focus Meeting to help bridge Laboratory Astrophysics and Astrochemistry with Astronomy by bringing together expert data providers and data users of laboratory and astronomical data. This is a truly multidisciplinary meeting that will bring together astronomers with theoretical and experimental chemists and physicists to discuss the state-of-the-art research in their respective disciplines and how their combined expertise can address important open questions in astronomy and astrophysics. We believe that there are many IAU Commissions and Divisions whose membership would be genuinely interested in these sessions. Our preliminary contacts and discussions within the IAU have been very well received and we have obtained strong support from a large number of Divisions and Commissions (see attached Letters of Support).


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