Processes that occur in astrophysical systems are not only complex, but also they often are occurring millions of miles away in systems that are larger than Earth. Simulations of these systems are so complex that 3D simulations of the entire system will not be possible for a few decades. In cases where part of a system can be modeled several discrepancies remain. In order to further explore these phenomena, high-energy-density physics (HEDP) facilities can be utilized to study astrophysical processes in a well-scaled experimental environment. Our research group uses HEDP facilities, such as the Omega Laser Facility, Nike KrF Laser Facility, and the HERCULES Petawatt Laser Facility, to study processes that occur in supernovae explosions, supernovae remnants, and geophysical fluid dynamics. These facilities are able to create temperatures of millions of degrees and velocities of several hundred thousand miles per hour.
Our laboratory has a fabrication facility where we build millimeter-scale experimental targets that, in some cases, are well-scaled to specific astrophysical systems. Diagnosing experiments on nanosecond timescales is challenging. Our lab also has several diagnostic projects oriented towards the improvement of diagnostics, including using x-rays in vacuum to make measurements. We also use computer simulations to aid in the preparation and analysis of experiments. In summary, our group is involved in laboratory astrophysics experiments, the fabrication of experimental targets, diagnostic characterization and multidimensional radiation hydrodynamics simulations.
Our group is led by Dr. R. Paul Drake and therefore referred to as the Drake Lab. For more information on the Drake Lab, call our Senior Research Engineer, Mike Grosskopf, or stop by our main lab in Room 1210 in the Space Research Building at 2455 Hayward Drive.