Cosmic Dust Research at the Colorado Dust Accelerator

Event Dates: 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 4:00pm

CTQM Seminar Type: 

  • Related Seminar Series

Speaker Name(s): 

Tobin Munsat

Speaker Affiliation(s): 

University of Colorado, Boulder

Abstract, Event Details: 

Cosmic dust grains play a central role in astrophysics and planetary science; the interaction of dust grains with planetary surfaces and atmospheres can drive weathering processes, surface chemistry (for airless bodies), and even atmospheric chemistry on Earth. Dust-detecting instruments can provide insight into the environment where the particles were formed, whether that is the interstellar medium, comets, asteroids, or even ejected from the surfaces of planets and moons. From a basic physics point of view, hypervelocity impact experiments can access extremely high energy density levels. To address many facets of cosmic dust research in the lab, we have recently developed a dust accelerator on the east campus of CU. This is a 3 MV electrostatic linear accelerator which launches particles in the size range of 0.1 to a few micrometers and velocities up to 100 km/s onto a variety of targets. This talk will describe the basic details of the accelerator and provide an overview of several lines of research being carried out by our group.  Specifically, I will discuss hypervelocity impact cratering experiments in thin films, impact experiments into cryogenic (ice) targets, making "shooting stars" in the lab, and the local development of dust detector instruments that have flown to the moon and will soon fly to Jupiter's moon Europa.