Science Support for the SCUBA-2 and Herschel Galactic Plane Surveys: Triggered Star Formation in the Galaxy

Lead Research Organisation: Liverpool John Moores University
Department Name: Astrophysics Research Institute


A quantitative understanding of how star formation is triggered or induced in the interstellar medium is fundamental to the whole of Astrophysics but is not yet available. It is this mode of star formation which is responsible for the intense starbursts observed in the early Universe. In order to achieve this understanding, we need to measure how the efficiency with which stars are formed from Galactic molecular gas clouds, and the distribution of the masses of the new stars that form, change with the strength of the physical forces which impact on the clouds, such as the winds and expanding ionised regions associated with hot stars, and supernova explosions. We also need to understand the initial conditions of star formation: the origin of the clouds themselves, their characteristic turbulence and how spontaneous star formation is affected by differences in these conditions. We have made significant progress in this direction with comprehensive observational studies of the star-formation content of single Galactic, star-forming, giant molecular clouds. Progress now requires large samples of similar regions with different initial and environmental conditions. The applicant is leading an international project to survey the Plane of the Galaxy using new, STFC-funded, state-of-the art instrumentation at the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii. This survey will produce a census of all high-mass star formation in a large fraction of the Galaxy which will lead to significant advances in the field. It will allow, for the first time, the study of representative samples of star-forming regions with a variety of internal and external physical environments. The applicant is also a key active member of an international consortium that has secured 300+ hours of observing time on the Herschel far-infrared space observatory, in order to survey the inner Galactic Plane. This project will provide important data on luminosities and temperatures (hence evolutionary status) for all but the coldest sources detected with SCUBA-2 in the inner Galaxy region. The proposed research will reveal the quantitative effect of initial conditions, external environment, and feedback on the star-formation efficiency and structure mass function. The results will create advances in our understanding of star formation and provide valuable input into other fields, such as the study of formation and evolution of galaxies.


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Eden D (2017) The JCMT Plane Survey: first complete data release - emission maps and compact source catalogue in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Eden D. J. (2013) Star formation in Galactic spiral arms and the interarm regions in MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY

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Mackenzie Todd (2011) A pilot study for the SCUBA-2 'All-Sky' Survey in MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY

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Molinari S (2010) Clouds, filaments, and protostars: The Herschel Hi-GAL Milky Way in Astronomy and Astrophysics

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Molinari S (2014) Protostars and Planets VI

Description A publicly accessible set of survey data of the 850-micron continuum emission from cold dust, constituting a complete census of star-forming activity in the Inner Galactic Plane (the JCMT Plane Survey)
Exploitation Route Facilitating research into Galactic star formation.
Sectors Education

Description Hi-Gal-based studies of triggered star formation 
Organisation Marseille Observatory
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Shared expertise on studying triggered star formation
Collaborator Contribution Shared expertise on studying triggered star formation in Spitzer-traced interstellar bubbles
Impact Herschel early science paper (Zavagno et al 2010)
Start Year 2010
Description Red MSX Survey (RMS) project 
Organisation University of Leeds
Department School of Physics and Astronomy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Contribution towards initial framing of the project and several observing runs, especially at ATNF.
Collaborator Contribution Significant effort in setting up and compiling a new MSX-selected sample of massive YSOs with a large observational programme over several years
Impact Several RMS Survey papers, including the first luminosity function of Massive YSOs in the Galaxy, lifetimes of key evolutionary stages, etc. (Mottram et al 2011).
Description Merseyside Astronomy Day VI 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact around 50 members of the public attend a day of talks and planetarium demonstrations at Spaceport, in Wallasey, Merseyside. The talk stimulated questions and discussion.

Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011