This program implements a spectral line, radiative transfer tool for interpreting Spitzer Space Telescope observations by matching them with models of protostellar disks for improved understanding of planet and star formation. The Spitzer Space Telescope detects gasphase molecules in the infrared spectra of protostellar disks, with spectral lines carrying information on the chemical composition of the material from which planets form. Input to the software includes chemical models developed at JPL. The products are synthetic images and spectra for comparison with Spitzer measurements.

Radiative transfer in a protostellar disk is primarily affected by absorption and emission processes in the dust and in molecular gases such as H2, CO, and HCO. The magnitude of the optical absorption and emission is determined by the population of the electronic, vibrational, and rotational energy levels. The population of the molecular level is in turn determined by the intensity of the radiation field. Therefore, the intensity of the radiation field and the population of the molecular levels are interdependent quantities.

To meet the computational challenges of solving for the coupled radiation field and electronic level populations in disks having wide ranges of optical depths and spatial scales, the tool runs in parallel on the JPL Dell Cluster supercomputer with C++ and Fortran compiler with a Message Passing Interface. Because this software has been developed on a distributed computing platform, the modeling of systems previously beyond the reach of available computational resources is possible.

This program was written by Paul Von Allmen and Neal Turner of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The software used in this innovation is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Karina Edmonds of the California Institute of Technology at (626) 395-2322. Refer to NPO-44467.

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Modeling of Radioactive Transfer in Protostellar Disks

(reference NPO-44467) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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This article first appeared in the September, 2007 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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