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The Structure and Evolution of Massive Star and Cluster Forming Regions

Event Details

Event Dates: 

Friday, November 16, 2012 - 5:00am

Speaker Name(s): 

Cara Battersby

Speaker Affiliation(s): 

Seminar Type/Subject

Event Details & Abstract: 

The light from massive stars and stellar clusters dominates our picture of the universe, yet our understanding of their formation and evolution is far from complete. I report on the physical properties of dense molecular gas clumps in our Galaxy, derived from Herschel, Spitzer, and the VLA, and the transformation of these clumps into massive stars and stellar clusters. I present the structure, properties, and dynamics of a massive star-forming Infrared Dark Cloud (G32.88+0.04, abutting the SNR 3C391) embedded within a Massive Molecular Filament at high-resolution using NH3 on the EVLA and then expand this to a global view of massive star formation using Herschel and Spitzer. We derive temperatures and column densities from Herschel data using a unique method that separates the dense clumps from the diffuse ISM. Comparing these temperatures and densities with star formation tracers reveals that warmer, more diffuse gas traces active star formation while colder, denser gas remains in a pre- or embedded star-forming phase. We estimate the duration of evolutionary phases of massive star forming clumps and find that the starless/embedded phase occupies a majority of the lifetime of dense molecular clumps. I will discuss the search for pre-cursors to stellar clusters in the Milky Way and what recent results of global dense gas kinematics in star-forming filaments tells us about the mode and duration of star formation in a clustered environment.