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Progress in Interstellar, Circumstellar and (Exo)Planetary Laboratory Astrophysics with the NASA Ames COSmIC and OCF Facilities

Presentation #124.02 in the session Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD): iPosters.

Published onJul 01, 2023
Progress in Interstellar, Circumstellar and (Exo)Planetary Laboratory Astrophysics with the NASA Ames COSmIC and OCF Facilities

The Cosmic Simulation Chamber (COSmIC) facility was developed at NASA Ames to study neutral and ionized molecules, nanoparticles, and grains under the low temperature and high vacuum conditions representative of interstellar, circumstellar, and planetary environments [1]. In COSmIC a Pulsed Discharge Nozzle generates a plasma in a supersonic jet expansion and is coupled to high sensitivity in situ diagnostic tools. Cavity ring down and laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy systems are used for the characterization in the UV-Vis-NIR-MIR of the species present in the expansion. A Time-of-flight mass spectrometer is used for the monitoring of the plasma-generated gas-phase molecular products leading to the formation of cosmic dust grain and planetary aerosol analogs. These in situ measurements have been and will be essential for the interpretation of data returned by missions (HST, JWST, SOFIA, Cassini...).

The Optical Constants Facility (OCF) consists of a FTIR spectrometer that allows spectral characterization from 0.6 to 200 µm and the determination of the optical constants of solid materials produced in COSmIC and other laboratories [2]. The optical constants of analogs of organic refractory materials formed in (exo)planetary, cometary, and astrophysical environments are critical input parameters in models used to interpret observational data (e.g., Cassini, New Horizons, JWST, ground based telescopes) .

We will present recent advances that were achieved that include advances in the domain of the diffuse interstellar bands and the extended red emission [3], and in the formation of laboratory analogs of interstellar and circumstellar dust grains and (exo)planetary aerosols from gas-phase precursors; as well as the determination of the optical constants of Titan and Pluto aerosol analogs and analogs of hazes and cloud particles in (exo)planet atmospheres [4-6].

References: [1] Salama et al., Proc. IAU S332, 2018. [2] Sciamma-O’Brien et al. Proc. IAU S371, 2023. [3] Bejaoui & Salama, AIP Adv., 2019, Bejaoui et al., JPCA, 2023. [4] Gavilan et al. ApJ. 2020. [5] Sciamma-O’Brien & Salama ApJ. 2020 [6] Sciamma-O’Brien et al. PSJ 2023.

Acknowledgements: The authors acknowledge the support of NASA SMD/APD and PSD and the technical support of E. Quigley.

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