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Cloudy - numerical simulations of non-equilibrium plasmas and their spectra

Chem-Phys 155
Speaker(s) / Presenter(s):
Prof. Gary Ferland (University of Kentucky)

Title: Cloudy - numerical simulations of non-equilibrium plasmas and their spectraHow Stars Form

Abstract:  Most of the quantitative information we have about the universe comes from spectroscopy, most often of emission lines or the continuous broad-band spectral energy distribution. Observations cover the electromagnetic spectrum from the radio to the gamma-ray.  The material producing the spectrum is so far from thermodynamic equilibrium that concepts like temperature do not apply.  Numerical simulations of the conditions in the plasma must be done from first principles, working back to atomic cross sections and rate coefficients.  A large system of balance equations is solved to determine the level populations within atoms or molecules and the abundance of each ion or molecule.  The cloud is optically thick, so the transfer of radiation out of the cloud and reaching our telescopes must be solved simultaneously. The result is a prediction of the full spectrum with a minimum of free parameters.  Cloudy is an open-source code that solves all these problems.  It was developed almost entirely here in Lexington and is widely used across the astronomical community. I developed Cloudy for my research, and I will describe some of its applications by my group and as well as by the astronomical community.


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