Massive stars (stars more massive than 8 times that of the Sun)
are dominant players in the Galaxy. Despite their small number, they produce
most of the visible light in the Galaxy. In their relatively short lives, they have
great impact on the galactic environment by ionizing
the interstellar medium via strong ultraviolet radiation, and
alter the makeup of the interstellar medium through manufacturing
heavy elements via supernovae explosion.
The existence of massive stars presents a challenge to our understanding
of star formation. Stars form from cold molecular gas and dust
when gravitational force overcomes the internal pressure in molecular clouds.
Radiation from massive stars exerts additional pressure on the
infalling material, and may overcome
gravity to prevent the formation of such stars.
Scientists in the R&G division are actively engaged in research aimed
at understanding the birth of massive stars through observations
in the radio, sub-millimeter and infrared wavelengths.
Lincoln Greenhill, Paul Ho, Jun-Hui Zhao, Izaskun M. Jimenez-Serra, Eric Keto, Jim Moran, Nimesh Patel, Mark Reid, T. K. Sridharan,
On-going collaborators, previously at CfA
Karl M. Menten
The 1.3 cm continuum image of the G10.6-0.4 region
obtained with the VLA-A configuration with an
angular resolution of 0.1". The continuum emission from
material ionized by newly formed OB stars appears in a flattened
structure where the gas seen in the
hydrogen recombination line spirals inward along the
major axis, indicating continued accretion in the HII region.
Image from Sollins, Zhang, Keto and Ho 2005, ApJ, 624, 49