ISOLDE Seminar

Precision laser spectroscopy for astrophysics and nuclear physics

by Christine Steenkamp ( Laser Research Institute, Physics Department, Stellenbosch University, South Africa)




In modern laboratories precision laser spectroscopy of atoms or molecules is frequently aimed at interdisciplinary research questions, with the CRIS experiment as prime example. The high resolution laser spectroscopy of carbon monoxide (CO) that we have conducted at the Laser Research Institute finds its application in astrophysics. As the second most abundant molecule in interstellar space CO is an important tracer species and its distribution, isotopic fractionation, absolute transition wavelengths and rotational temperature in astronomical observations provide parameters in astrophysics models. In addition CO data has also been used in the past few years to investigate fundamental questions regarding the evolution of the cosmos. The contributions of laser spectroscopy and our experimental work in particular to this field will be discussed. Techniques and lessons learned that are of relevance to resonant ionisation spectroscopy (RIS) will be highlighted. I will briefly introduce the Laser Research Institute, our collaborators and our involvement in the CRIS Experiment IS571.

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