cara battersby

Submillimeter Array Postdoctoral Fellow
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics


Cara Battersby at the GBTWelcome

Hello and welcome to my website.  I am currently an SMA Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.  I completed my PhD in astrophysics 2013 at the University of Colorado Boulder, working with Prof. John Bally.  My main focus is understanding the formation of massive stars and star clusters throughout our Galaxy and in the extreme environment at the center of our Galaxy.  I am currently leading a large-scale survey of the dense molecular gas in the center of our Galaxy to investigate why (if!) it's not forming as many stars as we think it should (The SMA Legacy Survey of the Central Molecular Zone). 

Pictured above...

Massive stars drive the life cycle of gas and stars in the Milky Way.  From powerful winds and radiation emitted at their birth to their explosive deaths, massive stars mold and sculpt gas, and the next generation of stars, throughout the Milky Way.  Image Above:Amid the frothy interstellar medium, a new generation of stars (some of which are massive) is forming.  A cold, dense cloud of gas obscures the infrared light behind it, creating a dark, filamentary shadow.  Young, forming massive stars illuminate small pockets in the cloud.  Since we can never witness a massive star form in real time (the process takes about a million years!), we try to piece together pictures of each evolutionary stage to create a sequence of massive star formation - like taking still frames and putting them in order to create a movie.  As massive stars are relatively rare, hunting down each evolutionary stage is a challenge.  In the cloud above, however, we see all the basic evolutionary stages of massive stars as they form within a single cloud (from deeply embedded and quiescent, to showing the first signs of internal radiation and outflows, to a luminous, ionized bubble of gas surrounding the young star).  Observing all the phases in a single cloud eliminates common observational biases and allows us to robustly piece together an evolutionary sequence (Sky & Telescope).  (Herschel 70 µm, Spitzer 24 µm and 8 µm, from Battersby et al. 2014b).


You can contact me at cbattersby [at]
or stop by and say hello: M-230 at 160 Concord Ave, Cambridge, MA
Mail: MS-78, 60 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138