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Radiative Processes in Astrophysical Gases: From the Intergalactic and Interstellar Medium to Exoplanetary Atmospheres


Oklopčić, Antonija (2017) Radiative Processes in Astrophysical Gases: From the Intergalactic and Interstellar Medium to Exoplanetary Atmospheres. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9GM85CS.


This thesis presents theoretical investigations in three areas of astrophysics, all related to radiative processes and interactions between stellar radiation and gaseous media in the Universe, ranging from the intergalactic and interstellar medium to planetary atmospheres.

Part I of the thesis consists of two independent investigations in which we study the effects of stellar feedback in high-redshift environments. The topic of Chapter 2 is the intergalactic medium (IGM) in the epoch just after the formation of the first stars in the Universe, but before the cosmic reionization was completed. This epoch is of great interest for the ongoing and future experiments aimed at observing the neutral IGM via the redshifted 21 cm line of hydrogen. We study the effects of resonant scattering of Lyman-α photons produced by early stars on the structure of temperature fluctuations in the IGM. In Chapter 3, we use cosmological hydrodynamic simulations of galaxy evolution to study the effects of stellar feedback on the clumpy structure of star-forming galaxies at z ~ 2. Observations of high-redshift galaxies show that their morphology is often dominated by a few giant clumps of intense star formation, but the nature and the importance of these clumps for the evolution of their host galaxies are uncertain. We present a detailed analysis of the properties of giant clumps in a high-redshift simulated galaxy from the FIRE project.

Part II of the thesis is devoted to the effects of Raman scattering of stellar radiation in the atmospheres of extrasolar planets. Spectral signatures of Raman scattering imprinted in the geometric albedo spectrum of a gaseous planet carry information about the properties of the planet's atmosphere---its composition, temperature, and the radiation-penetration depth. In Chapter 5, we present the results of radiative transfer calculations including the treatment of Raman scattering for different types of planetary atmospheres and analyze the feasibility of detecting the spectral signatures of Raman scattering in nearby exoplanets. The structure and the intensity of Raman spectral features depends on both the atmospheric properties and the shape of the stellar spectrum irradiating the atmosphere. In Chapter 6, we analyze the diversity of Raman features in the geometric albedo spectra of planets hosted by different types of stars.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:intergalactic medium; radiative transfer; galaxies: evolution; galaxies: high-redshift; galaxies: ISM; molecular processes; planets and satellites: atmospheres; scattering; techniques: spectroscopic
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Astrophysics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Hirata, Christopher M.
Group:TAPIR, Astronomy Department
Thesis Committee:
  • Hillenbrand, Lynne A. (chair)
  • Hopkins, Philip F.
  • Readhead, Anthony C. S.
  • Mawet, Dimitri
  • Hirata, Christopher M.
Defense Date:9 May 2017
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Fulbright Science & Technology AwardUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05312017-154839851
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription adapted for Ch. 2. adapted for Ch. 3. adapted for Ch. 5.
Oklopčić, Antonija0000-0002-9584-6476
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:10235
Deposited By: Antonija Oklopcic
Deposited On:02 Jun 2017 21:56
Last Modified:30 May 2023 22:24

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