RESEARCH/ conferences organized The Earth seen 
from the Moon
by
the Apollo XVI
NASA mission,
in UV light.

Earth as seen from the Moon in the UV band

Last update: September 22nd, 2018

Main research lines are associated with Ultraviolet Astronomy, Astrophysical Plasmas and Star Formation. These activities are coordinated through the Space Astronomy Research Group at UCM: AEGORA, were a full list of activities and publications is included.

As principal investigator of the Spanish participation in the Russian led space mission World Space Observatory - Ultraviolet (WSO-UV) most of my activity is concentrated in the development of the Field Camera Unit, WSO-UV imaging instrument, as well as the development of the WSO-UV Science Operations and Science Center in the UCM campus.  On the 27th of October of 2017 the Joint Center for Ultraviolet Astronomy (JCUVA) between the Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid was inaugurated in the UCM campus.

The WSO-UV is a multipurpose space observatory consisting of a 1.7 m-aperture telescope and three instruments for high-resolution spectroscopy, long-slit low-resolution spectroscopy, and deep UV and optical imaging. The WSO-UV mission will last for five years with a planned extension of five years more. The foreseen launch date is 2024. The Spanish site of the project can be accessed here

The WSO-UV will provide observations of exceptional importance for the study of several astrophysical problems. The mission has six key scientific objectives:

  • The study of galaxy formation and the chemical evolution of the Universe, covering the last 80% of its lifetime (0< z < 2).
  • The measurement of the properties of diffuse matter in the Universe and its distribution in galactic haloes.
  • The formation and evolution of the Milky Way.
  • The role of discs in astronomical engines.
  • The chemical composition and properties of the atmospheres of giant extrasolar planets.
  • The study of astrochemical processes in UV irradiated environments


From the full publications list, two recent research works are highlighted:
Protoplanetary Disk Shadowing by Gas Infalling onto the Young Star AK Sco

Gómez de Castro, A.I., Loyd, R.O.P, France, K., Sytov, A., Bisikalo, D.

ABSTRACT: Young solar-type stars grow through the accretion of material from the circumstellar disk during pre-main-sequence (PMS) evolution. The ultraviolet radiation generated in this process plays a key role in the chemistry and evolution of young planetary disks. In particular, the hydrogen Lyα line (Lyα) etches the disk surface by driving photoevaporative flows that control disk evolution. Using the Hubble Space Telescope, we have monitored the PMS binary star AK Sco during the periastron passage and have detected a drop of the H2 flux by up to 10% lasting 5.9 hr. We show that the decrease of the H2 flux can be produced by the occultation of the stellar Lyα photons by a gas stream in free fall from 3 R*. Given the high optical depth of the Lyα line, a very low gas column of NH > 5x1017 cm-2 suffices to block the Lyα radiation without producing noticeable effects in the rest of the stellar spectral tracers.
On the feasibility of studying the exospheres of Earth-like exoplanets by Lyman- α monitoring. Detectability constraints for nearby M stars
.
Gómez de Castro, A.I., Beitia-Antero,L., Ustamujic,S.

ABSTRACT: Young solar-type stars grow through the accretion of material from the circumstellar disk during pre-main sequence (PMS) evolution. The ultraviolet radiation generated in this process plays a key role in the chemistry and evolution of young planetary disks. In particular, the hydrogen Lyman-alpha line (Lya) etches the disk surface by driving photoevaporative flows that control disk evolution. Using the Hubble Space Telescope, we have monitored the PMS binary star AK Sco during the periastron passage and have detected a drop of the H2 flux by up to 10%  lasting 5.9 hours. We show that the decrease of the H2 flux can be produced by the occultation of the stellar Lya photons by a gas stream in free fall from 3 R*. Given the high optical depth of the Lya line, a very low gas column density of NH > 5x1017 cm-s suffices to block the Lya radiation without producing noticeable effects in the rest of the spectral tracers.