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eScholarship
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 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

(2011)

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

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

(2011)

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 Gap formation in transitional and pre-transitional disks: dust filtration in the presence of coagulation and fragmentation.

Gap formation in transitional and pre-transitional disks: dust filtration in the presence of coagulation and fragmentation.

(2011)

The transitional disks around young stars are protoplanetary disks with inner holes that are relatively empty of small dust grains, as inferred from the excess of far-infrared emission in their spectral energy distribution (SED) (Espaillat et al. 2007,2010). Recently, a new class of 'pre-transitional disks' are identified as exhibiting substantial emission from an optically thick inner disk separated from an optically thick outer disk by an optically thin gap (Espaillat et al. 2010). One plausible model for gap opening in these disks is by multiple giant planets (Zhu et al. 2011). However, two major problems remain to be solved. Firstly, micron-sized dust grains are not removed efficiently enough from the giant planet's gap to explain the observed low disk emission at near/mid-infrared wavelengths. Secondly, the presence of multiple Jupiter mass planets in resonance is not likely in standard disk models. We have developed a simple but robust coagulation-fragmentation model showing that piled-up material at the outer gap edge acts as a very efficient filter for micron-sized grains. Its reduction of the particle flow by two orders of magnitude provides excellent agreement with observational data. We can also produce high local surface density of particles at the outer edge of the gap, which may trigger planet formation in the outer disk.

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

Day-night cold traps for TiO in hot Jupiter atmospheres

(2011)

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.

Cover page of Disk Dynamos in Simulations of Collapsing Cores

Disk Dynamos in Simulations of Collapsing Cores

(2011)

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 Planetary dynamics in collisional particle disks

Planetary dynamics in collisional particle disks

(2011)

A simple, fast algorithm which simulates collisions between inelastic particles in an optically thin disk orbiting a central mass is implemented to the N-body simulation code MERCURY. The hybrid symplectic integrator is used to simulate a moonlet in the Saturn ring scenario, and produced a propeller structure around the moonlet which opens a partial gap in the ring.

Cover page of Convectively generated zonal jets by thunderstorms on Jupiter

Convectively generated zonal jets by thunderstorms on Jupiter

(2011)

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

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

(2011)

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 Analytical studies of fragmentation during gravitational collapse

Analytical studies of fragmentation during gravitational collapse

(2011)

We investigate the growth of linear perturbations on self-similar gravitational collapse solutions of an isothermal sphere. The perturbation equations are derived analytically, for exponentially growing modes, as well as oscillatory modes and the resulting system of differential equations is solved numerically, using different algorithms.

Cover page of Detecting the earliest stages of giant planet formation in scattered light

Detecting the earliest stages of giant planet formation in scattered light

(2011)

Using Whitney’s Monte Carlo radiative transfer code, we simulate the near IR scattered light images in both intensity and polarized intensity for a series of axisymmetric protoplanetary disk models. By measuring the properties of the images, we study the detectability of both the disks and the features of giant planet formation at early stage (i.e. gaps opened by the planets) in real observations, and the connection between the detected disk structure and the intrinsic properties of the system. We use real point spread functions of the Subaru telescope to convolve the images, in order to synthesize realistic images with the smallest spatial resolution and inner working angle which ground based instruments can provide at present. In the models without gaps, the effects of the disk depletion factor, mass, and flareness on the images are investigated, while for the models with a gap, we focus on the dependence of the detectability of the gap on the gap position, width, and depletion factor. Qualitatively, the more massive and more flared the disk is, the brighter the disk is. The gap is only visible when the disk is visible, and the deeper and wider the gap is, the larger the contrast level of the gap is.