January 22, 2016
The Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) has selected LLNL researcher, Peter Beiersdorfer as the recipient of the 2016 Laboratory Astrophysics Prize. This honor is given to an individual who has made significant contributions to laboratory astrophysics over an extended period of time. Beiersdorfer was cited for his numerous contributions to the study of astronomical environments at extreme-ultraviolet and X-ray wavelengths. He pioneered techniques to reproduce conditions on comets and in the Sun's atmosphere, interstellar space, and the centers of galaxies. A major focus of his research involves characterizing atomic and molecular diagnostics as revealed by their X-ray spectra. His studies of emission from the inner electron shells of iron, oxygen, neon, silicon, and sulfur are used to interpret the physical conditions in astronomical environments, both near and far. His work on X-ray emission from charge exchange revealed the importance of this process in cometary atmospheres.
Beiersdorfer's previous honors include Fellowship in the APS, and numerous LLNL Distinguished Achievement Awards. He received one of the inaugural Outstanding Referee Awards of the APS, and beginning in January 2016, he became the chair of the nearly 3,000-member-strong Far West Section of the APS. Together with his collaborators he published over scientific 500 papers, of which more than 50 have reported his laboratory astrophysics work in the Astrophysical Journal, Science, and Nature. With continuous NASA support, Beiersdorfer has carried out laboratory astrophysics work at the Livermore electron beam ion trap (EBIT) facility since 1991. He has also received support from DOE's General Plasma Science Program for conducting laboratory astrophysics measurements on US magnetic fusion facilities, notably the National Spherical Torus Experiment at Princeton. He has also received support for his science from the Lab's LDRD program.