Portrait of Maria Steinrueck

Maria Steinrueck

I am a researcher studying the atmospheres of exoplanets. Currently, I am a 51 Pegasi b Fellow at the University of Chicago.


My research focuses on studying the atmospheres of exoplanets with three-dimensional numerical simulations (so-called General Circulation Models or GCMs). I concentrate on close-in gas giants, such as hot Jupiters, warm Neptunes and mini Neptunes. These planets are tidally locked, meaning that one side of the planet permanently faces the star. This creates strong day-night temperature contrasts which drive a vigorous atmospheric circulation. I am interested in examining how this circulation shapes chemical processes, such as disequilibrium chemistry, cloud or haze formation, as well as in how these processes in turn influence the atmospheric circulation and radiative transfer.

Figure showing the haze mass mixing ratio at the 40 microbar level. The highest haze abundance is concentrated in two vortices located at midlatitudes at the nightside.

Haze mass mixing ratio at the 40 µbar level for small haze particles (see Fig. 1 and 4 in Steinrueck et al., 2021)

3D Simulations of Photochemical Hazes

In Steinrueck et al. (2021), I developed a model for photochemical hazes in a 3D general circulation model of a hot Jupiter. I demonstrated that small photochemical hazes are more concentrated at nightside and morning terminator, contrary to previous predictions, and explored the implication.

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Disequilibrium Chemistry on Hot Jupiters

In Steinrueck et al. (2019), I examined how disequilibrium abundances of methane, carbon monoxide and water affect 3D temperature structure and model-predicted phase curves of hot Jupiter HD 189733b. I found temperature changes of up to 10%, a large effect on the phase curve at wavelengths with strong methane absorption, such as the Spitzer 3.6 micron band, and little change in the Spitzer 4.5 micron band.

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Map of the temperature difference at the 30 mbar level. There is a negative temperature difference at the center of the panel (representing the day side) and a positive temperature difference towards the left and right sides of the panel (representing the night side).

Temperature difference compared to equilibrium chemistry in one of the simulations (see Fig. 4 in Steinrueck et al., 2019)


You can find a PDF of my CV here.


msteinrueck (at) uchicago (dot) edu

Maria Steinrueck
The University of Chicago
Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
William Eckhardt Research Center
5640 South Ellis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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