Jamie Law-Smith

office: ISB 157


I am a PhD student in Astronomy & Astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. I am interested in high energy astrophysics theory, and am currently working to understand (1) tidal disruptions of stars by massive 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) changing-look quasars. My advisor is Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz. I have also worked on understanding vacuum decay and de Sitter space in string theory with Michael Dine.

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.


Full list available on ADS, on INSPIRE, or on Google Scholar.
(* indicates alphabetical authorship order. † indicates advised student.)
  1. * Dine, M., Law-Smith, J., & Yu, Y., “De Sitter Space in String Theory/Theories of Gravity,” in prep.
  2. French, K. D., Wevers, T., Law-Smith, J., Graur, O., & Zabludoff, A. I., “Host Galaxies” chapter of The Tidal Disruption of Stars by Massive Black Holes book, to appear in Space Science Reviews
  3. Guillochon, J., Law-Smith, J., Dai, L., MacLeod, M., & Phinney, E. S., “Disruption” chapter of The Tidal Disruption of Stars by Massive Black Holes book, to appear in Space Science Reviews
  4. Law-Smith, J., Guillochon, J., & Ramirez-Ruiz, E. (2019), “The Tidal Disruption of Sun-like Stars by Massive Black Holes,” ApJL, 882, L25 [1907.04859]
  5. † Gallegos, M., Law-Smith, J., & Ramirez-Ruiz, E. (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]
  6. Law-Smith, J., Ramirez-Ruiz, E., Ellison, S.E., & Foley, R.J. (2017), “Tidal Disruption Event Host Galaxies in the Context of the Local Galaxy Population,” ApJ, 850, 22 [1707.01559]
  7. Law-Smith, J., MacLeod, M., Guillochon, J., Macias, P., & Ramirez-Ruiz, E. (2017), “Low-mass White Dwarfs with Hydrogen Envelopes as a Missing Link in the Tidal Disruption Menu,” ApJ, 841, 132 [1701.08162]
  8. Law-Smith, J. & Eisenstein, D. (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.

Talks (selected)

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.
  2. Climate change is real and is one of the major threats to humanity's long-term survival; it is also responsible for the recent water scarcity crises in several countries. Resources: the UN website, the OECD website, the Active Sustainability website.
  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:
  4. Take action to end police violence. Campaign Zero, 15 Things Your City Can Do Right Now to End Police Brutality from the Center for Popular Democracy.