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Open Access Publications from the University of California

UCSC is one of the world's leading centers for both observational and theoretical research in astronomy and astrophysics. The department was recently ranked first in the country in research impact, based on citation studies. Faculty and students in the department and our affiliated research centers are building and using first-rank telescopes and instrumentation—on Earth and in space—extending humanity’s vision to planets orbiting nearby stars and the first stirrings of the Universe.

The department includes 24 faculty members, whose research interests range from our solar system and the Milky Way to the most distant galaxies in the Universe and the most fundamental questions of cosmology.

UCSC is a leader in astrophysics education, and we attract some the best graduate students in the country, enrolling approximately 40 students working towards the Ph.D. degree.

Currently this page is for hosting only ISIMA (International Summer Institute for Modeling in Astrophysics) conference proceedings.

Cover page of Multi-phase turbulent ISM: Theory Confronting Observations

Multi-phase turbulent ISM: Theory Confronting Observations


In this document, we report our recent study on the turbulence inside the multi-phase ISM. First, we quantify the turbulence inside the molecular phase ISM by adopting a pixel-by-pixel line fitting strategy and studying the statistics of the fittings results of the 13CO lines. The histogram of the 13CO line amplitude and 13CO line FWHM show power-law behavior, indicative of turbulence. Especially, the histogram of the FWHM of the 13CO line show a dN/dv proportional to v-2.45 at high velocity end, which seems to be universal. By plotting the 2D histogram of the 13CO line strength versus the 13CO line width, a lower limit of the 13CO line width for a given 13CO line strength can be identified. We argue that such a lower limit is due to the self-gravity of the molecular cloud. Second, with the combination of 13CO data from the GRS survey and the Hi 21cm data from the VGPS survey, we study the connection between the molecular gas probed with the 13CO line emission and the cold Hi gas probed by the Hi 21cm self-absorption feature. We found that the Hi gas that is associated with the molecular clouds is also turbulent. The molecular clouds that have detectable Hi envelope are more turbulent than clouds that do not show such envelope. Our results support the idea the molecular cloud turbulence is driven from outside, e.g. by the large-scale converging flow.

Cover page of Improving the grain growth model in the outer part of circumstellar disks

Improving the grain growth model in the outer part of circumstellar disks


Observations of T-Tauri circumstellar discs show the presence of mm or cm size dust grains at large distances from the central star (r > 10s AU). There empirical data challenge the currently mainstream grain growth theory, that disfavours the formation of such large grains in the outer disc and, despite formation, predicts their rapid inward migration due to coupling with the gas on short timescales. In this work, we develop some improvements in the grain growth theory and implement them in GrOG (Growth Of Grains), a new numerical solver for the coagulation and fragmentation of grains inside a circumstellar disc. Our results revise conclusions from previous theoretical models, as we are able to growth particles of significantly larger size.

Cover page of Disk Dynamos in Simulations of Collapsing Cores

Disk Dynamos in Simulations of Collapsing Cores


We present simulations of the collapse of a massive rotating protostellar core assuming conditions characteristic of Population III star formation. Starting with an initially weak magnetic field, we find that the combined action of compression and dynamo processes amplify the field to nearly equipartition levels. At late times, we find the magnetic field is able to buoyantly rise above and below the protostellar disk, producing a large-scale magnetic field.

Cover page of Convectively generated zonal jets by thunderstorms on Jupiter

Convectively generated zonal jets by thunderstorms on Jupiter


A forced-dissipative shallow water model is adopted to simulate the jet streams, especially the equatorial ow, on Jupiter. Two types of forcing, the local mass pulse and vorticity pulse, are used to parameterize the small scale moist convection such as thunderstorms, respectively. In the mass-forced dissipative model without the frictional drag, it is unable to produce a prograde ow at equator. The reason could be that the anticyclonic features are favored by the off-equator positive mass forcing. In the simulations with the vorticity-type forcing, equatorial superrotation could be produced under some condition, although the physical mechanism is not fully understood.

Cover page of Destroying resonance between Neptune and its resonant Kuiper Belt Objects by stochastic planetesimal scatterings

Destroying resonance between Neptune and its resonant Kuiper Belt Objects by stochastic planetesimal scatterings


We revisit the destruction of resonance between Neptune and Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) by random planetesimal scatterings, which has been studied by Murray-Clay and Chiang (2006) previously. In this work, we consider the encounters between Neptune's resonant KBOs and planetesimals and the Levy flight behavior of resonant KBOs corresponding to a single big kick. The analysis in this work is based on order-of-magnitude estimation.

Cover page of Abundance and evolution of gas around Beta Pictoris

Abundance and evolution of gas around Beta Pictoris


Recent observations have shown that carbon in the gas around beta Pictoris is more than 100 times over- abundant with respect to the solar abundance. Although it is thought that such an overabundance in carbon is crucial to retain the metal elements in the disk, its origin is however unclear. In this paper, we establish a simple analytical model to study gas the removal process and thus calculate the abundance of various elements in the gas disk around beta Pictoris. The gas removal rate is controlled by the inward flow from viscous accretion and the outward radiation-induced drift. If the disk viscosity (using classical alpha-disk model) is low, radiation drift dominates the gas loss, and carbon can become highly overabundant. In order to produce the observed overabundance of carbon, a low viscosity of alpha < 10-3 and a gas production with solar abundance are preferred.

Cover page of Ohmic dissipation in hot Jupiters

Ohmic dissipation in hot Jupiters


We present an isolated analytical model for the ohmic heating in the interior of hot jupiters, treating the wind zone as a parameterized boundary condition. Under a conserved estimation of the strength of induced field and the assumption of an isothermal-convective planet model, we conclude that the mechanism of ohmic heating may not explain the over-inflated radius of hot jupiters along. We also develop a new time dependent evolution model for hot jupiters with ohmic heating, further show that ohmic heating is important only when the planet mass is small or the planet is at late stage of evolution.

Cover page of Charge exchange in the colliding winds of Hot Jupiters and their host stars

Charge exchange in the colliding winds of Hot Jupiters and their host stars


This project investigates the charge exchange process between the atmospheric escape of a hot jupiter and the wind of its host star as a possible explanation for the Lyman alpha high-velocity absorption of the stellar spectrum observed during transits. We use 2D hydrodynamical simulation to follow the dynamic of the two fluids (shocks, compression layers...) and we implement a chemistry module to compute the quantity of neutral hydrogen produced by charge exchange. The simulations show that Kelvin Helmholtz instabilities develop at the interface between the two flows leading to a mixing that gives enough energetic neutral hydrogen to explain the observed absorption. However works still need to be done, especially the implementation of coriolis force due to the orbital motion of the planet, to achieve a steady state and get the correct geometry for the interface.

Cover page of Planetesimal formation: shear instabilities at the dust-rich mid-plane

Planetesimal formation: shear instabilities at the dust-rich mid-plane


We have studied the stability of the thin dust-rich midplane in a protostellar disk. The layer tends to be broken apart by the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability due to differential velocities in the vertical direction, but is stabilized by the stretching of this instability thanks to the Coriolis force and radial shear. We found two trends depending on the metallicity at the midplane, which support previous studies and go further on which criteria is relevant to study these layers numerically.

Cover page of Day-night cold traps for TiO in hot Jupiter atmospheres

Day-night cold traps for TiO in hot Jupiter atmospheres


Temperature inversion leading to a hot stratosphere have been observed in some hot-Jupiter. Theoretical models predict that such a temperature inversion can be caused by the presence of a strong absorber in the visible in the high atmosphere. Titanium oxide have been proposed to be a good candidate for being this extra-absorber. Although the temperature in the day side of these planets can be high enough to maintain titanium oxide in a gaseous phase, it is not the case in the night side. In this work we discuss how the day/night temperature contrast can lead to the depletion of titanium oxide in the high atmosphere of hot-Jupiter. Using 1D and 3D models we found some constraints on the vertical diffusion coefficient needed to maintain enough titanium oxide in the upper atmosphere to create a temperature inversion. These constraints are similar to the ones given by Spiegel et al. (2009) for the vertical cold trap but hold for all the planets, even the ones that are too hot to be affected by the vertical cold trap.