School of Physics and Astronomy

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Dr Sven Van Loo

Astrophysics Group

Contact details

Room: 9.76
Tel: +44 (0)113 3434864
Email: S.VanLoo @


Dusty plasmas
Star formation
Hydrodynamics and magnetohydrodynamics
Numerical simulations

Research interests

Formation and evolution of GMCs:

Molecular clouds exhibit a hierarchical density structure with stars forming in their densest regions. Often, these star-forming complexes have an elongated, filamentary shape. Star formation occurs primarily in these GMCs, but is usually restricted to a small fraction of the volume of a GMC, as most stars form in or near relatively small clusters. This would seem to suggest that the processes setting the Galactic star formation rate are those that generate and/or destruct the dense clumps within GMCs. In contrast, the observationally inferred Kennicutt relation implies that the rate depends on a large-scale average of the column density of interstellar gas, which points to the importance of processes acting on scales larger than GMCs in regulating the Galactic rate. The star formation rate is thus closely linked to the dynamics of the interstellar medium (ISM) and thus directly regulated by processes like gravitational, thermal and magnetohydrodynamical instabilities and stellar feedback. Using numerical simulations I study the formation and evolution of GMCs in isolation and within the context of galaxies.

Multifluid shocks:

I study the dynamics of shock waves in magnetised and dusty plasmas. These models are relevant to the study of the outflows near young stellar objects. We have developed a time- dependent multiuid MHD code to calculate the structure of steady perpendicular and oblique C-type shocks in dusty plasmas. These models are the first of oblique fast-mode molecular shocks in which a rigorous treatment of the dust dynamics has been combined with a self-consistent calculation of the thermal and ionisation structures including appropriate microphysics. A time-dependent method is not only robust for finding steady state shock structures. It is also vital for modelling transient phenomena such as the interaction of a shock with a dense clump in a molecular cloud. Recently, we included grain sputtering in oblique C-type shocks to model the release of Silicon in the gas phase in order to compare with observations. Currently, I am working on 2D and 3D models of C-type shocks.