Alexander Brown - University of Colorado, Boulder, USA

Alexander Brown
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Alexander Brown
University of Colorado, Boulder, USA
United States

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Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (22)
Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (11)
Astrophysics (2)
Mathematics - Number Theory (1)
High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (1)
Astrophysics of Galaxies (1)

Publications Authored By Alexander Brown

Characterizing the UV spectral energy distribution (SED) of an exoplanet host star is critically important for assessing its planet's potential habitability, particularly for M dwarfs as they are prime targets for current and near-term exoplanet characterization efforts and atmospheric models predict that their UV radiation can produce photochemistry on habitable zone planets different than on Earth. To derive ground-based proxies for UV emission for use when Hubble Space Telescope observations are unavailable, we have assembled a sample of fifteen early-to-mid M dwarfs observed by Hubble, and compared their non-simultaneous UV and optical spectra. We find that the equivalent width of the chromospheric Ca II K line at 3933 Angstroms, when corrected for spectral type, can be used to estimate the stellar surface flux in ultraviolet emission lines, including H I Lyman alpha. Read More

We present a catalog of panchromatic spectral energy distributions (SEDs) for 7 M and 4 K dwarf stars that span X-ray to infrared wavelengths (5 {\AA} - 5.5 {\mu}m). These SEDs are composites of Chandra or XMM-Newton data from 5 - ~50 {\AA}, a plasma emission model from ~50 - 100 {\AA}, broadband empirical estimates from 100 - 1170 {\AA}, HST data from 1170 - 5700 {\AA}, including a reconstruction of stellar Ly{\alpha} emission at 1215. Read More

The ultraviolet (UV) spectral energy distributions of low-mass (K- and M-type) stars play a critical role in the heating and chemistry of exoplanet atmospheres, but are not observationally well-constrained. Direct observations of the intrinsic flux of the Lyman alpha line (the dominant source of UV photons from low-mass stars) are challenging, as interstellar HI absorbs the entire line core for even the closest stars. To address the existing gap in empirical constraints on the UV flux of K and M dwarfs, the MUSCLES HST Treasury Survey has obtained UV observations of 11 nearby M and K dwarfs hosting exoplanets. Read More

Ground- and space-based planet searches employing radial velocity techniques and transit photometry have detected thousands of planet-hosting stars in the Milky Way. The chemistry of these atmospheres is controlled by the shape and absolute flux of the stellar spectral energy distribution, however, flux distributions of relatively inactive low-mass stars are poorly known at present. To better understand exoplanets orbiting low-mass stars, we have executed a panchromatic (X-ray to mid-IR) study of the spectral energy distributions of 11 nearby planet hosting stars, the {\it Measurements of the Ultraviolet Spectral Characteristics of Low-mass Exoplanetary Systems} (MUSCLES) Treasury Survey. Read More

We introduce the first phase of the Kepler-Swift Active Galaxies and Stars survey (KSwAGS), a simultaneous X-ray and UV survey of ~6 square degrees of the Kepler field using the Swift XRT and UVOT. We detect 93 unique X-ray sources with S/N>3 with the XRT, of which 60 have observed UV counterparts. We use the Kepler Input Catalog (KIC) to obtain the optical counterparts of these sources, and construct the X-ray to optical flux ratio as a first approximation of the classification of the source. Read More

We use the Very Large Array (VLA) in the A configuration with the Pie Town (PT) Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) antenna to spatially resolve the extended atmosphere of Betelgeuse over multiple epochs at 0.7, 1.3, 2. Read More

Understanding the surface and atmospheric conditions of Earth-size, rocky planets in the habitable zones (HZs) of low-mass stars is currently one of the greatest astronomical endeavors. Knowledge of the planetary effective surface temperature alone is insufficient to accurately interpret biosignature gases when they are observed in the coming decades. The UV stellar spectrum drives and regulates the upper atmospheric heating and chemistry on Earth-like planets, is critical to the definition and interpretation of biosignature gases, and may even produce false-positives in our search for biologic activity. Read More

We present near-IR and far-UV observations of the pre-transitional (gapped) disk in HD 169142 using NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility and Hubble Space Telescope. The combination of our data along with existing data sets into the broadband spectral energy distribution reveals variability of up to 45% between ~1.5-10 {\mu}m over a maximum timescale of 10 years. Read More

The 9 Myr old TW Hya Association (TWA) is the nearest group (typical distances of $\sim$50 pc) of pre-main-sequence (PMS) stars with ages less than 10 Myr and contains stars with both actively accreting disks and debris disks. We have studied the coronal X-ray emission from a group of low mass TWA common proper motion binaries using the {\it{Chandra}} and {\it{Swift}} satellites. Our aim is to understand better their coronal properties and how high energy photons affect the conditions around young stars and their role in photo-exciting atoms, molecules and dust grains in circumstellar disks and lower density circumstellar gas. Read More

Interstellar reddening corrections are necessary to reconstruct the intrinsic spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of accreting protostellar systems. The stellar SED determines the heating and chemical processes that can occur in circumstellar disks. Measurement of neutral hydrogen absorption against broad Lyman-$\alpha$ emission profiles in young stars can be used to obtain the total H I column density (N(H I)) along the line of sight. Read More

Multi-wavelength centimeter continuum observations of non-dusty, non-pulsating K spectral-type red giants directly sample their chromospheres and wind acceleration zones. Such stars are feeble emitters at these wavelengths however, and previous observations have provided only a small number of modest S/N measurements slowly accumulated over three decades. We present multi-wavelength Karl G. Read More

Affiliations: 1NASA Herschel Science Center, USA, 2Peking University, China, 3California Institute of Technology, USA, 4University of Michigan, USA, 5University of Colorado, Boulder, USA, 6University of Colorado, Boulder, USA, 7Smith College, USA, 8Rice University, USA, 9JILA, USA, 10Central China Normal University, China, 11Space Telescope Science Institute, USA, 12Observatoire de Paris, France, 13University of Leicester, UK, 14University of Michigan, USA, 15University of Michigan, USA, 16Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, USA, 17University of Michigan, USA, 18Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, USA, 19California Institute of Technology, USA, 20ESO, Germany, 21Observatoire de Paris, France, 22Southwest Research Institute, USA, 23Stony Brook University, USA

For Classical T Tauri Stars (CTTSs), the resonance lines of N V, Si IV, and C IV, as well as the He II 1640 A line, act as diagnostics of the accretion process. Here we assemble a large high-resolution dataset of these lines in CTTSs and Weak T Tauri Stars (WTTSs). We present data for 35 stars: one Herbig Ae star, 28 CTTSs, and 6 WTTSs. Read More

We analyze the accretion properties of 21 low mass T Tauri stars using a dataset of contemporaneous near ultraviolet (NUV) through optical observations obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) and the ground based Small and Medium Aperture Research Telescope System (SMARTS), a unique dataset because of the nearly simultaneous broad wavelength coverage. Our dataset includes accreting T Tauri stars (CTTS) in Taurus, Chamaeleon I, $\eta$ Chamaeleon and the TW Hydra Association. For each source we calculate the accretion rate by fitting the NUV and optical excesses above the photosphere, produced in the accretion shock, introducing multiple accretion components characterized by a range in energy flux (or density) for the first time. Read More

Carbon monoxide (CO) is the most commonly used tracer of molecular gas in the inner regions of protoplanetary disks. CO can be used to constrain the excitation and structure of the circumstellar environment. Absorption line spectroscopy provides an accurate assessment of a single line-of-sight through the protoplanetary disk system, giving more straightforward estimates of column densities and temperatures than CO and molecular hydrogen emission line studies. Read More

Far-ultraviolet (FUV) radiation plays an important role in determining chemical abundances in protoplanetary disks. HI Lyman alpha is suspected to be the dominant component of the FUV emission from Classical T Tauri Stars (CTTSs), but is difficult to measure directly due to circumstellar and interstellar HI absorption. To better characterize the intrinsic Lyman alpha radiation, we present FUV spectra of 14 CTTSs taken with the Hubble Space Telescope COS and STIS instruments. Read More

Affiliations: 1Colorado, 2Colorado, 3Caltech, 4Michigan, 5Colorado, 6Colorado, 7Michigan, 8UC Berkeley, 9UMASS-Lowell, 10Harvard/CfA, 11Ball Aerospace, 12Colorado, 13Colorado, 14Caltech, 15Rice, 16Arizona, 17Colorado, 18Weslyan, 19GSFC, 20SwRI, 21ASU, 22GSFC, 23STScI

Few scientific discoveries have captured the public imagination like the explosion of exoplanetary science during the past two decades. This work has fundamentally changed our picture of Earth's place in the Universe and led NASA to make significant investments towards understanding the demographics of exoplanetary systems and the conditions that lead to their formation. The story of the formation and evolution of exoplanetary systems is essentially the story of the circumstellar gas and dust that are initially present in the protostellar environment; in order to understand the variety of planetary systems observed, we need to understand the life cycle of circumstellar gas from its initial conditions in protoplanetary disks to its endpoint as planets and their atmospheres. Read More

Affiliations: 1Colorado, 2SwRI, 3KIAA/Peking, 4Colorado, 5LUTH and UMR, 6Leicester, 7Michigan, 8Harvard/CfA, 9Colorado, 10LUTH and UMR, 11Central China Normal University

The formation timescale and final architecture of exoplanetary systems are closely related to the properties of the molecular disks from which they form. Observations of the spatial distribution and lifetime of the molecular gas at planet-forming radii (r < 10 AU) are important for understanding the formation and evolution of exoplanetary systems. Towards this end, we present the largest spectrally resolved survey of H2 emission around low-mass pre-main sequence stars compiled to date. Read More

We report radio interferometric observations of the 12C16O 1.3 mm J = 2-1 emission line in the circumstellar envelope of the M supergiant Alpha Ori and have detected and separated both the S1 and S2 flow components for the first time. Observations were made with the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA) interferometer in the C, D, and E antenna configurations. Read More

We present a far-ultraviolet (FUV) spectral atlas consisting of spectra of 91 pre-main sequence stars. Most stars in this sample were observed with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) and Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) on the \emph{Hubble Space Telescope} (\emph{HST}). We find strong correlations among the \ion{O}{1} $\lambda$1304 triplet, %\ion{C}{2} $\lambda$1335, the \ion{Si}{4} $\lambda\lambda$1394/1403 doublet, the \ion{C}{4} $\lambda$1549 doublet, and the \ion{He}{2} $\lambda$1640 line luminosities. Read More

Carbon Monoxide is a commonly used IR/sub-mm tracer of gas in protoplanetary disks. We present an analysis of ultraviolet CO emission in {HST}-COS spectra for 12 Classical T Tauri stars. Several ro-vibrational bands of the CO A^1\Pi - X^1\Sigma^+ (Fourth Positive) electronic transition system are spectrally resolved from emission of other atoms and H_2. Read More

Young stars surrounded by disks with very low mass accretion rates are likely in the final stages of inner disk evolution and therefore particularly interesting to study. We present ultraviolet (UV) observations of the ~5-9 Myr old stars RECX-1 and RECX-11, obtained with the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) and Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), as well as optical and near infrared spectroscopic observations. The two stars have similar levels of near UV emission, although spectroscopic evidence indicates that RECX-11 is accreting and RECX-1 is not. Read More

Affiliations: 1CASA, Colorado, 2CASA, Colorado, 3MPE, 4CASA, Colorado, 5JILA, Colorado, 6LUTH and UMR, 7LUTH and UMR, 8CASA, Colorado, 9CfA, Harvard, 10JILA, Colorado

The direct study of molecular gas in inner protoplanetary disks is complicated by uncertainties in the spatial distribution of the gas, the time-variability of the source, and the comparison of observations across a wide range of wavelengths. Some of these challenges can be mitigated with far-ultraviolet spectroscopy. Using new observations obtained with the HST-Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, we measure column densities and rovibrational temperatures for CO and H2 observed on the line-of-sight through the AA Tauri circumstellar disk. Read More

We exploit the high sensitivity and moderate spectral resolution of the $HST$-Cosmic Origins Spectrograph to detect far-ultraviolet spectral features of carbon monoxide (CO) present in the inner regions of protoplanetary disks for the first time. We present spectra of the classical T Tauri stars HN Tau, RECX-11, and V4046 Sgr, representative of a range of CO radiative processes. HN Tau shows CO bands in absorption against the accretion continuum. Read More

Affiliations: 1University of Colorado, 2University of Colorado, 3University of Colorado, 4University of Colorado, 5University of Colorado

We present new far-ultraviolet observations of the young M8 brown dwarf 2MASS J12073346-3932539, which is surrounded by an accretion disk. The data were obtained using the Hubble Space Telescope-Cosmic Origins Spectrograph. Moderate resolution spectra (R~17,000-18,000) obtained in the 1150-1750 A and 2770-2830 A bandpasses reveal H2 emission excited by HI Ly$\alpha$ photons, several ionization states of carbon (CI - CIV), and hot gas emission lines of HeII and NV (T ~ 10^4-5 K). Read More

We consider a generalization of the Frobenius Problem where the object of interest is the greatest integer which has exactly $j$ representations by a collection of positive relatively prime integers. We prove an analogue of a theorem of Brauer and Shockley and show how it can be used for computation. Read More

We summarize some of the compelling new scientific opportunities for understanding stars and stellar systems that can be enabled by sub-mas angular resolution, UV/Optical spectral imaging observations, which can reveal the details of the many dynamic processes (e.g., variable magnetic fields, accretion, convection, shocks, pulsations, winds, and jets) that affect their formation, structure, and evolution. Read More

We have obtained three long-slit, far UV spectra of the pre-main sequence system T Tauri. These HST/STIS spectra show a strong and variable on-source spectrum composed of both fluoresced H_2 and stellar chromospheric lines. Extended H_2 emission is seen up to 10" from the T Tau system. Read More

We analyze local ISM absorption observed in the Lyman-alpha and Mg II h & k lines of six nearby K dwarf stars, using UV spectra of these stars obtained with the Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph on the Hubble Space Telescope. For four of the six stars, we detect an absorption component with a velocity and column density consistent with the Local Interstellar Cloud (LIC). For HD 197890, there is no observed component at the expected LIC velocity, or at the projected velocity of the G cloud, which is a nearby cloud in the general direction of the Galactic Center. Read More