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Free-floating planets (FFPs) can result from dynamical scattering processes happening in the first few million years of a planetary system's life. Several models predict the possibility, for these isolated planetary-mass objects, to retain exomoons after their ejection. The tidal heating mechanism and the presence of an atmosphere with a relatively high optical thickness may support the formation and maintenance of oceans of liquid water on the surface of these satellites. In order to study the timescales over which liquid water can be maintained, we perform dynamical simulations of the ejection process and infer the resulting statistics of the population of surviving exomoons around FFPs. The subsequent tidal evolution of the moons’ orbital parameters is a pivotal step to determine when the orbits will circularize, with a consequential decay of the tidal heating. We find that close-in ($a \lesssim 25$ RJ) Earth-mass moons with carbon dioxide-dominated atmospheres could retain liquid water on their surfaces for long timescales, depending on the mass of the atmospheric envelope and the surface pressure assumed. Massive atmospheres are needed to trap the heat produced by tidal friction that makes these moons habitable. For Earth-like pressure conditions (p0 = 1 bar), satellites could sustain liquid water on their surfaces up to 52 Myr. For higher surface pressures (10 and 100 bar), moons could be habitable up to 276 Myr and 1.6 Gyr, respectively. Close-in satellites experience habitable conditions for long timescales, and during the ejection of the FFP remain bound with the escaping planet, being less affected by the close encounter.
A free-floating planet (FFP) is a planetary-mass object that orbits around a non-stellar massive object (e.g. a brown dwarf) or around the Galactic Centre. The presence of exomoons orbiting FFPs has been theoretically predicted by several models. Under specific conditions, these moons are able to retain an atmosphere capable of ensuring the long-term thermal stability of liquid water on their surface. We model this environment with a one-dimensional radiative-convective code coupled to a gas-phase chemical network including cosmic rays and ion-neutral reactions. We find that, under specific conditions and assuming stable orbital parameters over time, liquid water can be formed on the surface of the exomoon. The final amount of water for an Earth-mass exomoon is smaller than the amount of water in Earth oceans, but enough to host the potential development of primordial life. The chemical equilibrium time-scale is controlled by cosmic rays, the main ionization driver in our model of the exomoon atmosphere.
The extraction of chemical abundances of ionised nebulae from a limited spectral range is usually hampered by the lack of emission lines corresponding to certain ionic stages. So far, the missing emission lines have been accounted for by the ionisation correction factors (ICFs), constructed under simplistic assumptions like spherical geometry by using 1-D photoionisation modelling.
In this contribution we discuss the results (Gonçalves et al. 2011, in prep.) of our ongoing project to find a new set of ICFs to determine total abundances of N, O, Ne, Ar, and S, with optical spectra, in the case of non-spherical PNe. These results are based on a grid of 3-D photoionisation modelling of round, elliptical and bipolar shaped PNe, spanning the typical PN luminosities, effective temperatures and densities.
We show that the additional corrections to the widely used Kingsburgh & Barlow (1994) ICFs are always higher for bipolars than for ellipticals. Moreover, these additional corrections are, for bipolars, up to: 17% for oxygen, 33% for nitrogen, 40% for neon, 28% for argon and 50% for sulphur. Finally, on top of the fact that corrections change greatly with shape, they vary also greatly with the central star temperature, while the luminosity is a less important parameter.
Feedback from photoionisation may dominate on parsec scales in massive star-forming regions. Such feedback may inhibit or enhance the star formation efficiency and sustain or even drive turbulence in the parent molecular cloud. Photoionisation feedback may also provide a mechanism for the rapid expulsion of gas from young clusters' potentials, often invoked as the main cause of ‘infant mortality’. There is currently no agreement, however, with regards to the efficiency of this process and how environment may affect the direction (positive or negative) in which it proceeds. The study of the photoionisation process as part of hydrodynamical simulations is key to understanding these issues, however, due to the computational demand of the problem, crude approximations for the radiation transfer are often employed.
We will briefly review some of the most commonly used approximations and discuss their major drawbacks. We will then present the results of detailed tests carried out using the detailed photoionisation code mocassin and the SPH+ionisation code iVINE code, aimed at understanding the error introduced by the simplified photoionisation algorithms. This is particularly relevant as a number of new codes have recently been developed along those lines.
We will finally propose a new approach that should allow to efficiently and self-consistently treat the photoionisation problem for complex radiation and density fields.
We present an analysis of the spatial distribution of various stellar populations within the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. We use optically selected stellar samples with mean ages between ~9 and ~1000 Myr, and existing stellar cluster catalogues to investigate how stellar structures form and evolve within the LMC/SMC. We use two statistical techniques to study the evolution of structure within these galaxies, the Q-parameter and the two-point correlation function (TPCF). In both galaxies we find the stars are born with a high degree of substructure (i.e. are highly fractal) and that the stellar distribution approaches that of the “background” population on timescales similar to the crossing times of the galaxy (~ 80 Myr & ~ 150 Myr for the SMC/LMC respectively). By comparing our observations to simple models of structural evolution we find that “popping star clusters” do not significantly influence structural evolution in these galaxies. Instead we argue that general galactic dynamics are the main drivers, and that substructure will be erased in approximately the crossing time, regardless of spatial scale, from small clusters to whole galaxies. This can explain why many young Galactic clusters have high degrees of substructure, while others are smooth and centrally concentrated. We conclude with a general discussion on cluster “infant mortality”, in an attempt to clarify the time/spatial scales involved.
We have recently (Gonçalves et al. 2006) shown that previously reported enhanced N abundances in fast, low-ionization emission regions (FLIERs) of PNe, particularly in NGC 7009, may be due to ionization effects. We reached this conclusion through the 3D MOCASSIN photoionization modeling of the bright inner rim of NGC 7009 and its pair of FLIERs, assuming homogeneous elemental abundances throughout the nebula, for N as well as other elements. The (N$^+$/N)/(O$^+$/O) ratio predicted by our models is 0.60 for the rim and 0.72 for the knots, clearly in disagreement with the N$^+$/N=O$^+$/O assumption of the ionization correction factors (ICF) method. Therefore the ICFs are underestimated in both components, rim and knots, but more so in the knots. This effect is partly responsible for the apparent N overabundance claimed for FLIERs.
Based on the above results we are also investigating what would be the effect of the N/O ICF overestimation on the definition of Type I PNe which do not have FLIERs-like structures.
The study of photoionised gas in planetary nebulae (PNe) has played a major role achieving, over the years, a better understanding of a number of physical processes pertinent to a broader range of fields than just PNe studies, ranging from atomic physics to stellar evolution. Whilst empirical techniques are routinely employed for the analysis of the emission line spectra of such objects, the accurate interpretation of the observational data often requires the solution of the radiative transfer (RT) problem in the nebula, via the application of a photoionisation code. A number of large-scale codes have been developed since the late sixties, using various analytical or statistical techniques mainly under the assumption of spherical symmetry and a few in 3D. These codes have been proved to be powerful and in many cases essential tools, but a clear idea of the underlying physical processes and assumptions is necessary in order to avoid reaching misleading conclusions. The development of the codes has been driven by the observational constraints available, but also compromised by the available computer power. Modern codes are faster and more flexible, with the ultimate goal being the achievement of a description of the observations relying on the smallest number of parameters possible. In this light, recent developments have been focused on the inclusion of new atomic data, the inclusion of a realistic treatment for dust grains mixed in the ionised and photon dominated regions (PDRs) and the expansion of some codes to PDRs with the inclusion of chemical reaction networks. Furthermore the last few years have seen the development of fully 3D photoionisation codes based on the Monte Carlo method. A brief review of the photoionisation codes currently in use is given here, with emphasis on recent developments, including the expansion of the models to the 3D domain, the identification of new observational constraints and how these can be used to extract useful information from realistic models.
A three-dimensional self-consistent photo-ionisation code is developed using Monte Carlo techniques in order to build realistic models of photoionised nebulae of arbitrary geometry and density distribution. The code's results are benchmarked against those of estabilished codes. Two models are computed for the planetary nebula NGC 3918 using two different density distributions. The results of the two models are compared with the observations.
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