The IAA cosmic dust laboratory

Dust particles exist in a wide variety of scenarios ranging from the Earth's atmosphere to other planetary and cometary atmospheres in the Solar System, interplanetary medium, reflection nebulae, circumstellar disks, etc. Those dust particles play an important role in the radiative balance of the body under study. Light scattering properties of spherical particles can be easily computed from Lorenz-Mie theory. However, in the majority of the above mentioned cases, the assumption of spherical particles is highly unrealistic. Nowadays, even with ever-increasing computer power and sophistication of algorithms, the characterization of small dust particles from the observed scattered light remains an extremely difficult task due to the complicated morphology of those particles. Consequently, controlled experimental studies of light scattering by irregular dust particles, remain a unique tool for interpreting space- and ground-based observations. For that purpose we have recently built a cosmic dust laboratory at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía. In this talk I will give a brief description of the experimental apparatus, showing what we can learn about the size, shape, and composition of cosmic dust particles from our experimental data.

NOTE: Even if you are not familiarized with light scattering, experiments, or dust you will be able to follow the talk from the beginning to the end.


06/05/2010 - 14:00
Olga Muñoz Gómez
Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía - CSIC