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WG5: Astrophysics in the laboratory

Front page image: an artists impression of a young stellar object accreting and launching bipolar jets (Courtesey of ESO/L. Calada.). Find more at this link.

Studying Astrophysics in the Laboratory, is facilitated by high-energy laser experiments. We are offered here a unique possibility to realize experiments, relavant to astrophysical phenomena. This concerns direct measurements of astrophysical-relevant conditions (equation of state, opacities) or simulating, on a small scale, dynamics of phenomena like the formation of astrophysical jets, radiative shocks, the development of hydro instabilities, etc through scaling laws between laboratory physics and astrophysics.

Fluid instabilities in the lab and in the cosmos; Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities are triggered by the shock wave implosion (explosion) in the hydrogen pellet (supernova shock wave). Simulation comparison is of 'similarity'-type (while the other types of simulations or solutions are 'sameness' and 'resemblance'), see [1].

Astrophysical phenomena exists over an extreme scale range in density and temperature. One can get a view of the vastness of this phase space by plotting various astrophysical objects, and further link these to relevant experiements which are able to achieve the same density-temperature conditions in the laboratory. The picture below is an attempt at viewing the feasibility of existing laboratory experiements here on Earth w.r.t. astrophysics contexts.

Log(density)-Log(temperature) plot of astrophysical phenomena (bubbles) and laboratory experiments (red dashed bounds) capable of achieving silimar conditions.

In Europe, we have a wide spectrum of complementary scientific expertises within astrophysics, laser plasma experiments, and modeling. Until today, these communities have had few and mainly bi-lateral collaborations without common research, training and networking efforts, in order to develop this new scientific realm.

Although significant and outstanding results have been obtained from these bi-lateral collaborations, a coordinated organisation of cross- and multi-disciplinary scientists would considerably increase the impact of laboratory astrophysics.

When considering the emergence of large European laser facilities (LMJ, HiPER, Orion, PETAL), we are urged to provide these different communities with an interface, through activities that will allow scientists to meet and exchange information and competences. Such a networking initiative will help to kick-start multi-lateral collaborations; in particular, it will help to train young researchers in this multidisciplinary domain, and secure a continuous development in experiemental astrophysics for the future. This point is crucial to making the current and upcoming laser facilities competitive and relevant on the international level.

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