The Florida A&M University NSF-CREST Center for Astrophysical Science and Technology
(CCAST) is housed within FAMU’s premier Center for Plasma Science and Technology (CePAST)
at Innovation Park. Here, a large variety of lasers, optical and electronic detectors and other associated equipment is being used to study plasma and photonics physics. CCAST personnel are faculty researchers from the FAMU physics and chemistry departments. They are also using the equipment and facilities of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, operated by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, its Chandra X-ray Center, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Brookhaven National Laboratory and CERN. The Principal Investigator of CCAST is Dr. Charles A. Weatherford
, Professor and Chairman of FAMU Physics.
Through CCAST, FAMU students are able to perform research in astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology and the ongoing upgrade of the FAMU observatory to a remotely controllable robotic station has generated great student interest and participation.
The NSF award is $1 million a year for five years.
Through the CCAST, students can pursue an undergraduate minor or a Ph.D. research concentration in astrophysics. The program will provide state-of-the-art focused student training in areas such as:
- Computations and collision processes in space (Bidhan Saha, Charles Weatherford, Jesse Edwards) - In addition to
the explanation of the unexpected discovery of X-ray emission from the comets and other astronomical objects, the
charge exchange has been increasingly recognized as a major player in spectra from deep space and magnetic fusion
research as well. It is our aim to evaluate these state-selective charge-transfer cross sections very accurately. Various
numerical procedures will be used to evaluate both the structure and the dynamics of the problem. Quantal as well as
semi-classical methods will be applied to assess the reliability of the results.
- Turbulence Phenomena in Astrophysical Systems (Dr.Joseph A. Johnson III, Dr. Lewis Johnson, Dr. Maurice Edington) - The difficulty
with turbulence in astrophysics is noticeable
over the broadest range of systems ranging from planetary and solar to
interstellar to intergalactic even to problems cosmological. Our research addresses this problem. Using ionizing shock
waves, a TeraWatt femtosecond laser, and a spheromak we will produce a complete dynamical theory of turbulence.
Through the new turbulent plasma physics, the activities should provide, for example, explanations of the processes
which produce equipartition of energy in interstellar media, anomalous spectra and the processes of Taylor relaxation to
self-organized states with a specific set of implications for solar effects.
- Experimental particle astrophysics and high energy astrophysics (Ray H. O’Neal, Jr.) - We conduct research in the
area of particle astrophysics, high energy astrophysics and observational astronomy. Our research interests include detector
materials, systems and instrumentation for particle astrophysics, high energy astrophysics, and observational
space and ground based astronomy.