Research at IPAC

Critical to the proper execution of all programs at the Greater IPAC is a staff of active researchers who can guide the development of those tasks and subsequently assist other astronomers in using the final products. The list below is intended to highlight our research activities and provide links to resources internally and globally, in the hope of improving visibility and encouraging collaborations both within IPAC and with the science community at large.

Recent Results

Featured Science Authors

Gray_stauffer_rec John Stauffer
Pat_morris Patrick Morris

Featured Science Papers

Orbiting Clouds of Material at the Keplerian Co-Rotation Radius of Rapidly Rotating Low Mass WTTs in Upper Sco John Stauffer Tue, Feb 07, 2017

Using K2 data, we have identified 23 very low mass members of the ρ Oph and Upper Scorpius star-forming region as having periodic photometric variability not easily explained by well-established physical mechanisms such as star spots, eclipsing binaries, or pulsation. All of these unusual stars are mid-to-late M dwarfs without evidence of active accretion, and with photometric periods generally <1 day. Often the unusual light curve signature takes the form of narrow flux dips; when we also have rotation periods from star spots, the two periods agree, suggesting that the flux dips are due to material orbiting the star at the Keplerian co-rotation radius. We sometimes see "state-changes" in the phased light curve morphologies where ∼25% of the waveform changes shape on timescales less than a day; often, the "state-change" takes place immediately after a strong flare. For the group of stars with these sudden light curve morphology shifts, we attribute their flux dips as most probably arising from eclipses of warm coronal gas clouds, analogous to the sling-shot prominences postulated to explain transient Hα absorption features in AB Doradus itself and other rapidly rotating late type stars. For another group of stars with somewhat longer periods, we find the short duration flux dips to be highly variable on both short and long timescales, with generally asymmetric flux dip profiles. We believe that these flux dips are due to particulate clouds possibly associated with a close-in planet or resulting from a recent collisional event.

Herschel/HIFI Spectral Mapping of C+, CH+, and CH in Orion BN/KL: The Prevailing Role of Ultraviolet Irradiation in CH+ Formation Patrick Morris Thu, Oct 13, 2016

The CH+ ion is a key species in the initial steps of interstellar carbon chemistry. Its formation in diverse environments where it is observed is not well understood, however, because the main production pathway is so endothermic (4280 K) that it is unlikely to proceed at the typical temperatures of molecular clouds. We investigate the formation of this highly reactive molecule with the first velocity-resolved spectral mapping of the CH+ J = 1-0, 2-1 rotational transitions, three sets of CH Λ-doubled triplet lines, 12C+ and 13C+ {}2{P}3/2{{--}}2{P}1/2, and CH3OH 835 GHz E-symmetry Q-branch transitions, obtained with Herschel/HIFI over a region of ≈12 arcmin2 centered on the Orion BN/KL source. We present the spatial morphologies and kinematics, cloud boundary conditions, excitation temperatures, column densities, and 12C+ optical depths. Emission from all of C+, CH+, and CH is indicated to arise in the diluted gas, outside the explosive, dense BN/KL outflow. Our models show that UV irradiation provides favorable conditions for steady-state production of CH+ in this environment. Surprisingly, no spatial or kinematic correspondences of the observed species are found with H2 S(1) emission tracing shocked gas in the outflow. We propose that C+ is being consumed by rapid production of CO to explain the lack of both C+ and CH+ in the outflow. Hence, in star-forming environments containing sources of shocks and strong UV radiation, a description of the conditions leading to CH+ formation and excitation is incomplete without including the important—possibly dominant—role of UV irradiation.

Research Projects

5mJy Unbiased Spitzer Extragalactic Survey 5muses 5MUSES Operational

The 5mJy Unbiased Spitzer Extragalactic Survey (5Muses) is a mid-infrared spectroscopic survey of 330 galaxies with Spitzer's Infrared Spectrograph (IRS).

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Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey CANDELS Operational

CANDELS is a powerful imaging survey of the distant Universe being carried out with two cameras on board the Hubble Space Telescope.

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Cosmic Evolution Survey COSMOS Operational

COSMOS is an HST Treasury Project to survey a 2 square degree equatorial field with the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). The project also incorporates major commitments from other observatories, including Spitzer, GALEX, the VLA radio telescope, ESO's VLT in Chile, ESA's XMM X-ray satellite, and Japan's 8-meter Subaru telescope in Hawaii.

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Dwarf Archives Landtdwarf Operational is an online archive containing astrometric, photometric, and spectroscopic information for all known L and T dwarfs, as well as a select sample of over 500 M dwarfs.

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Great Observatories All-Sky LIRG Survey Goals GOALS Operational

The Great Observatories All-sky LIRG Survey (GOALS), is combining imaging and spectroscopic data from NASA's Spitzer, Hubble, Chandra and GALEX space-borne observatories in a comprehensive study of over 200 of the most luminous infrared-selected galaxies in the local Universe.

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Habitable Zone Gallery Habitable Zone Gallery Operational

The Habitable Zone Gallery ( is a new service to the exoplanet community which provides Habitable Zone information for each of the exoplanetary systems with known planetary orbital parameters.

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Herschel Infrared Galactic Plane Survey Hi-GAL Operational

The Herschel infrared Galactic Plane Survey (Hi-GAL) is a Herschel Open Time Key Project to map the inner Milky Way galaxy in 5 bands between 60 and 600 microns with diffraction limited spatial resolution.

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Key Insights on Nearby Galaxies: a Far-Infrared Survey with Herschel Kingfish KINGFISH Operational

The KINGFISH project (Key Insights on Nearby Galaxies: a Far-Infrared Survey with Herschel) is an imaging and spectroscopic survey of 61 nearby (d < 30 Mpc) galaxies, chosen to cover the full range of integrated properties and local interstellar medium (ISM) environments found in the local Universe.

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MIPS Galactic Plane Survey Mipsgal_sq MIPSGAL Operational

MIPSGAL is an extensive infrared survey of the Galactic plane of the Milky Way, our Galaxy, using the Spitzer Space Telescope.

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MIPS Galactic Plane Survey II MIPSGAL II Operational

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Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxies Survey Sings_sq SINGS Operational

The Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxies Survey (SINGS) is a comprehensive imaging and spectroscopic study of 75 nearby galaxies (D < 30 Mpc).

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Spitzer Mapping of the Outer Galaxy SMOG Operational

The Spitzer Mapping of the Outer Galaxy (SMOG) project is a 21 square degree area mapping of a representative region of the outer Galaxy (l=102-109, b=0-3) using Spitzer's IRAC and MIPS instruments.

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Spitzer Wide-area Infrared Extragalactic Survey Swire_patch SWIRE Operational

The Spitzer Wide-area Infrared Extragalactic survey is one of six very large programs undertaken as Legacy surveys during the first year of flight of the Spitzer Space Telescope. SWIRE has imaged nearly 50 square degrees (equal to the area of 250 full moons) divided among 6 different directions on the sky, detecting over 2 million galaxies by their heat radiation, some of them over 11 billion light years away.

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The Panchromatic Hubble Ultra Deep Field: Ultraviolet Coverage Uvudf UVUDF Operational

The Panchromatic Hubble Ultra Deep Field: Ultraviolet Coverage (UVUDF) is a treasury Hubble Space Telescope program using the WFC3-UVIS detector with the F225W, F275W, and F336W filters. These UV images will reach point source detection limits of AB=29, a factor of ten fainter than the GALEX ultradeep surveys.

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WFC3 Infrared Spectroscopic Parallel Survey WISPs Operational

The WISP survey is a large Hubble Space Telescope pure parallel program with the WFC3 G102 and G141 infrared grisms. The broad, continuous, spectral coverage of the G102 and G141 grisms provides the best currently feasible measurement of the star formation rate continuously from 0.5 <z < 2.5.

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Young Stellar Object Variability YSOVAR Operational

The Young Stellar Object Variability project (YSOVAR) is an Exploration Science program being conducted by the Spitzer Space Telescope during its warm mission with the InfraRed Array Camera (IRAC).

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