The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
Working Papers: Astronomy and Astrophysics Panel Reports
of the Universe. The end of the 70's saw the deuterium and 3He constraints combined to predict that consistency could occur only if the abundance of primordial lithium was Li/H ~ 10-10 and if the density of baryonic matter is about 1/10 the critical density. Observations in the early 80's appear to have confirmed the predicted lithium abundance, thereby providing a strong argument that most of the Universe is made up of some form of non-baryonic dark matter. (An alternative, less favored explanation is that the density of the Universe is only 1/10 critical.) The 80's also saw a flurry of activity in examining inhomogeneous nonstandard BBN models. By the end of the decade, the robustness of the standard model was demonstrated by the failure of the efforts made to circumvent it.
*One of the most decisive verifications of an astrophysical prediction came when particle accelerator experiments at CERN in Geneva., Switzerland and at SLAC in Palo Alto confirmed that there were only three generations of light neutrinos. Theoretical calculations of the light element abundances (particularly 4He) due to BBN are inconsistent with observation if there were a large number of types of light neutrinos.
The concept of inflation was one of the most important advances in cosmology in the 80's. Inflation raised the stakes in the competition between cosmological models, by showing that at least one plausible model based on Grand Unified Theories (GUTs) could explain the observed isotropy of the universe, provide a natural explanation for why the density is near the critical value, and suggest a natural spectrum for primeval density perturbations. While it remains to be seen whether inflation proves to be correct in detail, it has greatly expanded the horizons of what cosmologists can hope to explain, and has provided the framework for much of the work on the early universe that took place in the 1980's.
The interconnection of particle physics and cosmology that developed during the 80's is illustrated by other examples as well. Astrophysical constraints set limits on the existence and properties of various particles. The physics of baryon non-conservation in the GUT theories gave the first models for the origin of the excess of matter over antimatter and for the ratio of baryons to photons in the Universe. Phase transitions predicted from particle physics played a role in the study of a variety of effects from magnetic monopoles to seeds for galaxy formation, to inhomogeneous Big Bang Nucleosynthesis. The ideas of cosmic strings, both normal and superconducting, and other topological defects launched a major theoretical industry to explore their properties and to seek connections to observed large scale structure. All this work pushes the frontiers of physics further back toward the Planck scale, the ultimate problems of quantum gravity, and the origin of the Universe.
Laboratory Astrophysics in the 80's
Atomic and Molecular Physics
Spectroscopic studies of a diverse range of atomic and molecular species at all wavelengths were carried out at the greatly enhanced level of precision made possible by lasers and they assisted in the identification of emission and absorption lines of a diverse variety of astrophysical objects. Spectroscopic measurements on carbon monoxide yielded information on CO that removed a major uncertainty in the description of the photodissociation of CO in circumstellar shells and interstellar clouds. Theoretical calculations and laboratory measurements successfully identified the source of infrared emission lines in the solar atmosphere as excited Rydberg levels of magnesium, silicon and aluminum.
Charge transfer was recognized as an important mechanism for redistributing the charge in a high excitation nebulae. Emission lines resulting from the charge transfer of multiply-charged oxygen and neon in hydrogen were predicted and found in the spectra of planetary nebulae. Experiments to measure charge transfer at low energies were designed.
A productive, mutually stimulating collaboration occurred between observers of molecular emission and absorption lines and theorists carrying out basic quantum-mechanical calculations in joint studies of the spectroscopy of possible candidate molecules. The collaboration led to the discovery and identification of interstellar cyanoethyl, butadinyl, cyclopropenylidene, dicarbon sulfide, tricarbon sulfide and protonated hydrogen cyanide and of circumstellar silicon dicarbide, silicon carbide and deuterated butadinyl.
The molecular ion , an ion of central importance in the ion-molecule theory of interstellar chemistry, was observed in emission in the atmosphere of Jupiter. Quantum-mechanical evaluation of the potential energy surface followed by the calculation of all the energy levels and transition probabilities provided a prediction of the emission line frequencies and intensities, whose accuracy could be assessed by experimental measurements of selected transitions. On the basis of the laboratory studies, emission lines appearing in