For traditional reasons Theory and Laboratory Astrophysics have been coupled together in this report. However, since they are rather separate areas with different communities and different impact, we have tried to separate clearly the science and the needs of these two communities. The vitality of both Theory and Laboratory Astrophysics is critical to the success of essentially all future astronomy.
While Arthur Eddington's famous statement that no astronomical observation can be believed until confirmed by theory may be a bit excessive, there is no question that branches of science progress most rapidly when there is a close interplay of theory, observation and experiment. When theory runs too far ahead of what can be measured, a field becomes more philosophy than science, and when data taking yields huge archives without understanding, fields go through intellectual stagnation. The success of modern astrophysics illustrates the close interdependence of observation, experiment and theory. To maintain a vital science requires a strong theoretical community commensurate with a strong experimental/observational community. A strong theoretical community does not only attempt to explain data and establish frameworks with which to analyze, but it also makes predictions about what should eventually be seen. Furthermore, theory can provide a deep and satisfying understanding of how things fit together into a coherent view of the universe as a whole. In the two science sections of this report, opportunities for the 90's and successes of the 80's, we see both the impressive opportunities that lie ahead as well as recent successes upon which we can build. In particular, we note that theory has been an important driver of our subject in many areas.
Laboratory Astrophysics plays a very different role than Theory. It provides the firm laboratory base of atomic, molecular and plasma data necessary to understand and direct observations in space. It also provides the nuclear data necessary to carry out calculations of cosmological and stellar nucleosynthesis as well as energy generation and other nuclear processes. Furthermore, high energy accelerators and other particle experiments are now not only providing the particle data necessary for calculations, but also in some cases even testing cosmological predictions. Another area of Laboratory activity has been in the determination of meteoritic abundances which play a key role in the interpretation of nucleosynthetic ideas. In the science sections of this report, each of these wide-ranging sub-areas will be discussed.
The recommendations are divided into two sections. The first, immediately following the science opportunities, will discuss funding needs. The second, at the end, will discuss policy and procedural questions. Since Theory receives significant funding from three separate agencies, NSF, DOE and NASA, while Laboratory Astrophysics receives funding from those three plus NIST, and since each receives support from different subsections within those agencies, it is obvious that policy and interagency co-operation questions are non-trivial. In particular, the argument is made that both Theory and Laboratory Astrophysics require that funding be commensurate with the levels of funding received throughout astrophysics. Furthermore, since most of this funding is for relatively small individual research grants, it is important that such individual programs are not allowed to be lost or overlooked in the zeal for large projects.
Experience suggests that many of the most exciting theoretical developments in astrophysics in the 1990's will Be in directions whose significance was at best only poorly appreciated in the 1980's. However, it is an encouraging measure of the growing maturity of our subject that there is a considerable catalog of puzzles that we know how to address and whose answers will teach us something new. The following is meant to be a representative but certainly not complete sampler of such topics.
A major occupation for theoretical astronomy in the 1990's will be the search for a world picture consistent with the observations of the large-scale structure of the Universe, as it is now and as it was in the distant past. Observations are yielding new pieces to the puzzle, advances in computer hardware and algorithms are improving our ability to explore how the pieces of the puzzle might fit together, and new ideas from particle physics are offering a variety of world pictures that the pieces might fit into. The feeling