The rise of the Milky Way: Gaia's 3D view of the local neighborhood

May 3, 2018
Phillips Auditorium
University of Vienna

Most of what we know about star and planet formation has been obtained from spatial 2D observations of the local Galactic neighborhood (d ~ 1 kpc), collected over the last 70 years. During this time we have built a pragmatic, ​although simplified, view of the local complexes, establishing a series of ground truths that guide today's star formation research. For example, we use Orion as the template for massive star formation and Taurus for low-mass star formation. We have embraced supersonic turbulence as a fundamental pillar of the star formation process, but have not identified its source. We have organized groups of young stars as either bound clusters or associations and wondered about the origin of an all-sky structure we call Gould’s belt. Recently, we found that this view might be up for revision, as we have seen evidence for a new and more significant arrangement of young massive stars in the local neighborhood we call Blue Streams. These streams appear to be several hundred pc long and display monotonic age sequences, suggestive of a common origin at Galactic scales. If real, Blue Streams would play a critical role in understanding the structure of ​the ​local ISM, would give a much-needed context to local star formation, and even allow the prediction of the "galactic weather" our solar system will face in the future. In this talk, a week and a day after Gaia Data Release 2, I will present the very latest from the 3D view of the local neighborhood and will try to validate or reject old and new ideas.

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