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Astro Seminar

A Global View of Star Formation in the Milky Way

Speaker: Karl Menten (Bonn)
Date: Wednesday 29 July 2020
Time: 15:00
Venue: Zoom

Stars with more than about ten solar masses dominate galactic ecosystems. Understanding their formation is one of the great challenges of modern astronomy. The spectacular HII regions they excite delineate the spiral arms of galaxies such as our own – making it clear that star formation and Galactic structure are intimately related. We report on an ambitious program that consists of a powerful multi-pronged approach to study star formation over the whole Milky Way. It comprises distance determinations of most of the dominant star forming regions in the Galaxy using trigonometric parallax determinations of maser sources associated with proto- and young stellar objects. This allows mass and luminosity determinations and the characterization of the spiral structure. Submillimeter emission from dust surveyed over the whole southern Galactic plane with the APEX telescope delivers the locations of deeply embedded proto-stellar and proto-cluster condensations and their masses. In comprehensive follow-up programs and a complementary radio-wavelength survey we are studying the energetics, chemistry and kinematics of the neutral and ionized gaseous content of the star forming regions and the interstellar medium that surrounds them. Our synoptic approach creates a coherent, global perspective on star formation in our Galaxy.