Clumpiness of the interstellar medium may play an important role in the transfer of infrared continuum radiation in star forming regions (Boisse, 1990). For example, in homogeneous models, C II emission should be confined to the cloud edge (Viala, 1986). However, in star formation regions (such as M17SW, M17 and W51), it is observed to extend deep into the molecular cloud (Stutzki et al., 1988; Keene et al., 1985). One plausible interpretation of these observations is that, due to their clumpiness, the clouds are penetrated by UV radiation far deeper than expected from simple homogeneous models.
The interaction of H II regions around young massive stars with a clumpy medium is another area of interest. Molecular clouds are well established to be clumpy on length scales down to the limits of observational resolution. Clumps can act as localized reservoirs of gas which can be injected into the surroundings by photoionization and/or hydrodynamic ablation (Dyson et al., 1995; Mathis et al., 1998).
The calculation of radiation transport in hot, clumpy materials is a challenging problem. Approximate, statistical treatments of this problem have been developed by several workers, but their application has not been tested in detail. We describe laboratory experiments, using the Omega laser to test modelling of radiation transport through clumpy media in the form of inhomogeneous plasmas.