Jamie Alexander Powell Law-Smith


Dept. of Astronomy & Astrophysics, UC Santa Cruz
1156 High St, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA
Office: ISB 157

Research interests

High energy astrophysics theory, tidal disruption events, compact objects (black holes, neutron stars, white dwarfs), common envelope episodes, stellar evolution, stellar mergers, gravitational-wave progenitor formation, host galaxies, accretion disks, active galactic nuclei, changing-look quasars, vacuum decay, de Sitter space in string theory


UC Santa Cruz, anticipated Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics, 2015-2021 (expected)
Harvard University, A.B. in Physics, Astrophysics, 2010-2014


I am a PhD student in Astronomy & Astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. I am interested in high energy astrophysics theory, and am currently working on (1) tidal disruptions of stars by black holes, (2) common envelope episodes and stellar mergers, especially in the context of GW sources, (3) accretion onto neutron stars in a dense medium, and (4) AGN disks and changing-look quasars. My advisor is Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz. I am also working with Douglas N.C. Lin on AGN disks. During my PhD I have also worked with Michael Dine on vacuum decay and de Sitter space in string theory.

I did my undergraduate at Harvard in Physics and Astrophysics. I did work in experimental particle physics on the Higgs to WW decay channel with Joao Guimaraes da Costa, in cosmology on custering-mass/color relationships in SDSS galaxies with Daniel Eisenstein, and on resolving excess large-scale power and North/South differences in SDSS with David Schlegel. Before starting my PhD, I backpacked and taught at a school in India for nine months.


Up-to-date list available on ADS, on INSPIRE, or on Google Scholar.

(* indicates alphabetical authorship order. † indicates advised student.)
  1. T. Hung, R. J. Foley, E. Ramirez-Ruiz, J. L. Dai, K. Auchettl, C. D. Kilpatrick, B. Mockler, J. Brown, D. A. Coulter, G. Dimitriadis, T. Holoien, J. Law-Smith, A. L. Piro, A. Rest, C. Rojas-Bravo, M. R. Siebert, “Prompt Accretion Disk Formation in an X-Ray Faint Tidal Disruption Event,” submitted to ApJ [2003.09427]
  2. * M. Dine, J. A. P. Law-Smith, & Y. Yu, “De Sitter Space in String Theory/Theories of Gravity,” in prep.
  3. K. D. French, T. Wevers, J. Law-Smith, O. Graur, & A. I. Zabludoff, 2020, “The Host Galaxies of Tidal Disruption Events,” Space Sci Rev 216, 32 [2003.02863]
  4. E. M. Rossi, N. C. Stone, J. A. P. Law-Smith, M. MacLeod, G. Lodato, J. L. Dai, & I. Mandel, 2020, “The Process of Stellar Tidal Disruption by Supermassive Black Holes. The first pericenter passage,” to appear in Springer Space Science Reviews [2005.12528]
  5. J. Law-Smith, J. Guillochon, & E. Ramirez-Ruiz, 2019, “The Tidal Disruption of Sun-like Stars by Massive Black Holes,” ApJL, 882, L25 [1907.04859]
  6. † M. Gallegos-Garcia, J. Law-Smith, & E. Ramirez-Ruiz, 2018, “Tidal Disruptions of Main-sequence Stars of Varying Mass and Age: Inferences from the Composition of the Fallback Material,” ApJ, 857, 109 [1801.03497]
  7. J. Law-Smith, E. Ramirez-Ruiz, S. L. Ellison, & R. J. Foley, 2017, “Tidal Disruption Event Host Galaxies in the Context of the Local Galaxy Population,” ApJ, 850, 22 [1707.01559]
  8. J. Law-Smith, M. MacLeod, J. Guillochon, P. Macias, & E. Ramirez-Ruiz, 2017, “Low-mass White Dwarfs with Hydrogen Envelopes as a Missing Link in the Tidal Disruption Menu,” ApJ, 841, 132 [1701.08162]
  9. J. Law-Smith & D. J. Eisenstein, 2017, “The Color and Stellar Mass Dependence of Small-scale Galaxy Clustering in SDSS-III BOSS,” ApJ, 836, 87 [1702.03933]


Here is the PDF.


Videos from recent simulations papers are available at this URL. Please email if you would like a particular video I have shown in a talk.

PDFs of talks (selected)

Tidal Disruptions in Kyoto: Confronting Theory with Observations, Kyoto, Japan, 2020, "Composition and Stellar Structure in TDEs using FLASH+MESA" (PDF)

Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, 2018, "Tidal Disruptions of Stars by Massive Black Holes" (PDF)

Using Tidal Disruption Events to Study Super-Massive Black Holes, Aspen, CO, 2018, "Tidal Disruptions of Real Stars" (PDF)

TDE17: Piercing the sphere of influence, Cambridge, UK, 2017, "TDE Host Galaxies in the Context of the Local Galaxy Population" (PDF)

UC Santa Cruz FLASH Seminar, Santa Cruz, CA, 2017, "Tidal Disruptions: Fingerprints of Quiescent Massive Black Holes" (PDF)

Jerusalem Tidal Disruption Event Workshop, Jerusalem, Israel, 2015, "Helium-core Hydrogen-envelope WDs as a Missing Link in TDE Demographics" (PDF)


  1. Put your money to good use (if you have extra to give). Effective altruism / charity resources: the Open Philanthropy Project, Giving What We Can, The Life You Can Save, GiveWell, 80,000 hours. Or give directly to the Against Malaria Foundation and/or the Deworm the World Initiative, two of the most effective charities.
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  3. Within academia and particularly in physics and astronomy, there are far fewer people from underrepresented groups in undergraduate majors, phd positions, postdoctoral positions, and professorships than are reflected in the demographic makeup of the US (and the world). The field needs to do something about this---this includes developing equitable and inclusive hiring, admissions, and grant and telescope proposal reviewal practices, as well as recruiting and retaining students from diverse groups in undergraduate and graduate education. Regarding this aim in astronomy graduate education, the AAS recently put out a report on the status of diversity and inclusion as well as their recommendations:
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