Star Formation

Massive stars have a strong influence on the appearance of galaxies: with their strong outflows during their formation, their winds and UV radiation and, at the end of their lifes, powerful supernova explosions. In spite of their importance, much less is known about their process of formation than for their lower mass, sun-like siblings. Using teleccopes operating at a large range of wavelenghts (e.g. at cm-wavelengths using Effelsberg, and mm-wavelengths using the IRAM 30m and NOEMA telescopes and at submm-wavelenghts using APEX, ALMA and SOFIA) many aspects of star formation are studied, in particular with large scale spatial surveys to find and characterize star forming regions in a variety of evolutionary stages and with molecule line surveys to determine their physical and chemical conditions. The complexity of the cold and dense interstellar medium as the raw material for the formation of new generations of stars is revealed in APEX telescope imaging of dust at submillimeter wavelenghts (see APEX/LABOCA images of parts of the Galactic plane). In the department we are studying the morphology and kinematics of the detected extended filamentary structures and the physical and chemical conditions of the dense parsec scale clumps in which star clusters are forming.

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