RG Research: Massive Star Formation

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.

Project Links


Lincoln Greenhill, Paul Ho, Jun-Hui Zhao, Izaskun M. Jimenez-Serra, Eric Keto, Jim Moran, Nimesh Patel, Mark Reid, T. K. Sridharan, Qizhou Zhang

On-going collaborators, previously at CfA

Karl M. Menten

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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


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