Level structures on the Weierstrass family of cubics

Research paper by Mira Bernstein, Christopher Tuffley

Indexed on: 02 Jul '06Published on: 02 Jul '06Published in: Mathematics - Algebraic Geometry


Let W -> A^2 be the universal Weierstrass family of cubic curves over C. For each N >= 2, we construct surfaces parametrizing the three standard kinds of level N structures on the smooth fibers of W. We then complete these surfaces to finite covers of A^2. Since W -> A^2 is the versal deformation space of a cusp singularity, these surfaces convey information about the level structure on any family of curves of genus g degenerating to a cuspidal curve. Our goal in this note is to determine for which values of N these surfaces are smooth over (0,0). From a topological perspective, the results determine the homeomorphism type of certain branched covers of S^3 with monodromy in SL_2(Z/N).