Pre-stellar and protostellar core evolution with Herschel, SCUBA2 and ALMA.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Central Lancashire
Department Name: Sch of Comput Engin and Physical Sci


This proposal addresses some of the key questions in star formation: what determines the stellar IMF and the pre-stellar core mass function (CMF); how are they linked; how do the properties of pre-stellar cores depend on the filamentary structures in which they emerge; and how do pre-stellar cores form and evolve? Our goal is to address these issues by exploiting the wavelength coverage and resolution offered by Herschel, SCUBA-2, ALMA, and other complementary instruments. Ward-Thompson (30% FEC requested) is one of the four PIs of the SCUBA-2 Gould Belt legacy survey team; he is a senior member of the SPIRE SAG-3 Gould Belt survey team; PDRA Kirk (100% support requested) is a member of both teams. It is proposed that Ward-Thompson and Kirk will work on data reduction, detailed analysis and scientific interpretation of starless, pre-stellar, and proto-stellar core properties and evolution, using the multi-wavelength data available, to determine the evolutionary sequence of cores, and the dependence of core properties and evolution on cloud and filament environment.

We have previously shown that the pre-stellar core mass function (CMF) has the same shape as the stellar IMF at high masses, and that the CMF continues to trace the IMF down to the sub-stellar mass regime. A consequenceof these discoveries is that it appears that to explain the IMF, one must understand how the pre-stellar CMF is determined. Only modest surveys were possible in the SCUBA era. Now, using Herschel and SCUBA-2, it is possible to make complete, distance-limited surveys, out to 500 parsecs, with excellent spatial resolution, and to follow up with ALMA at very high resolution. The Herschel Gould Belt Survey (GBS) has produced a rich data-set that has yet to be fully exploited.

Early analysis has concentrated on the detection of star-forming cores, statistical investigation of their basic properties through measurements of total flux density and SED fitting, and the identification of a clear link between core formation and the ubiquitous filamentary structure that pervades molecular clouds. Important questions remain, which we can answer by using the multi-wavelength Herschel and SCUBA-2 data with complementary observations:

What are the initial conditions for the collapse of pre-stellar cores?

How is the pre-stellar core mass function (CMF) determined?

How does core evolution proceed?

How do the temperature and density structure, the accretion rate, and the total luminosity evolve?

What are the time-scales for the various stages in this process?

How do the basic properties of cores and of the CMF depend on environment?

How does the CMF map onto the stellar IMF?

We can address these questions by: (i) identifying all the cores in the various surveys and clarifying the statistical properties of both pre- and proto-stellar cores; and (ii) using the large data sets available to reveal the influence of filamentary structure and other aspects of environment on core properties and evolution.

Planned Impact

The Outreach and Impact Case (see attached) presents the track record of Ward-Thompson and Kirk at Cardiff, as well as the context and track record at UCLan, together with Ward-Thompson's plans for the future at UCLan. This makes it slightly more complex than simply presenting a single institution's track record and future plans. However, this hopefully makes clear the applicants' strong track record in impact and outreach.

Ward-Thompson has an extremely strong track record of Impact and Outreach, which he intends to maintain and expand over the period of the proposed grant. These plans are also embedded in an overall strategy for both Outreach and Knowledge Exchange within the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute (JHI) at UCLan.

As well as interaction with the media, Ward-Thompson has conducted an extensive programme of public engagement through a wide range of events from Open Days, Public Observing, Schools Lectures and Teacher workshops.

UCLan has a very strong outreach programme, and Ward-Thompson intends to encourage this activity. UCLan's presence in East Lancashire and West Cumbria means that it is ideally placed to present STFC funded science to a large population which would not otherwise be easily reached. This includes regions with very low participation rates in Higher Education.

UCLan has a purpose-built observatory at Alston, 8 miles from Preston, incorporating a planetarium classroom, the Wilfred Hall Telescope, and extensive outdoor and small dome observing facilities. This facility is used to high effectiveness for undergraduate teaching, residential courses for distance learning events and public engagement events.

Ward-Thompson himself has always had a strong personal interest in public outreach activities. He has given many talks in schools, astronomical societies, and to other general audiences. He has talked at meetings of the 'Round Table', the 'Probus' club, and other societies of business people. He has appeared 6 times on the BBC TV Programme 'The Sky at Night', and has been invited to the 55th Anniversary programme in April 2012. He has also appeared on the BBC Radio 4 'Today' Programme. In recognition of his outreach work, in January 2012, Ward-Thompson was elected as President of the UK 'Society for Popular Astronomy' (SPA), the largest society of amateur astronomers in the UK.

Ward-Thompson put significant extra effort into outreach activities during the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) 2009. He led the Cardiff IYA Programme of events. One of the most successful of these that he organized was the 'Spring Moonwatch' campaign, during which several hundred people came and looked at the Moon through Cardiff telescopes. A photograph of the Cardiff Moonwatch event featured on the front cover of the magazine 'Science in Parliament', the in-house science magazine of the Houses of Parliament - issue 66.2, Whitsun 2009.

As Deputy Head of School in Cardiff, Ward-Thompson oversaw in 2010 the introduction of a new degree scheme in 'Physics with a Professional Placement' in which the student spends a year in a professional firm as part of their degree, to gain experience of work in an industrial or commercial environment. The aim of the placement is to enable the student to gain an appreciation of the context for Physics in a work-place situation and to enhance their employability skills. He plans a similar degree scheme at UCLan.


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Benedettini M (2015) Filaments in the Lupus molecular clouds in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Buckle J (2015) The JCMT Gould Belt Survey: SCUBA-2 observations of circumstellar discs in L 1495 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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De Villiers H (2015) 6.7-GHz methanol maser associated outflows: an evolutionary sequence in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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De Villiers H (2014) Methanol maser associated outflows: detection statistics and properties in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Description Many public lectures and talks have been given, as well as papers in the popular scientific literature.
Sector Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism
Impact Types Cultural

Description Herschel-SPIRE Consortium 
Organisation Cardiff University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We helped with the data reduction and analysis of the Herschel Gould Belt Survey.
Collaborator Contribution The SPIRE Consortium owns all of the data.
Impact See all outputs on Herschel data.
Description JCMT Gould Belt Survey 
Organisation Joint Astronomy Centre
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We reduced and analysed data from the JCMT SCUBA2 Gould Belt Survey
Collaborator Contribution JCMT provided the data.
Impact See all outputs related to JCMT data.
Description Outreach Activities 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Stargazing Live - Talk 08/01/2014 Alston 25 people
Talk at SPA Meeting, London 25/01/2014 London 100
Astrofest 7-8/02/2014 London 200
Careers fair, Westholme School 20/03/2014 Westholme School 200
Alston residential weekend 21-23/03/2014 Alston 25
Invited talk, St Marys Brownedge School 01/04/2014 Bamber Bridge 60
Memorial service for Jeremiah Horrocks 06/04/2014 Much Hoole Parish Church 70
Open day talk 05/04/2014 UCLan 40
Talk at SPA Meeting, London 26/04/2014 London 200
Open day talk 21/06/2014 UCLan 40
Lancashire Science Festival 24-26/06/2014 UCLan 7000
Huddersfield Astronomical Society 05/09/2014 Huddersfield 20

All talks were well received
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
Description Outreach activities 2012/13 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Society for Popular Astronomy meeting 27/10/2012 London 200 people
BBC Radio Lancashire - Breakfast Show 06/05/2013 Broadcast
Astrofest 8-9/02/2013 Kensington Town Hall 2500
Transit of Venus Play 06/11/2013 Public Performance at UCLan 200
Society for Popular Astronomy meeting 26/01/2013 London 200
Alston Residential weeked 02/03/2013 Alston 20
Society for Popular Astronomy meeting 27/04/2013 London 200
CFA 20th Anniversary event 08/05/2013 Westleigh conference center, Preston 50
Society for Popular Astronomy meeting 11/05/2013 UCLan 50
Society for Popular Astronomy meeting 15/06/2013 Royal Observatory, Edinburgh 100
Lancashire Science Festival 29/06/2013 UCLan 1000
Society for Popular Astronomy meeting 27/07/2013 London 200
Society for Popular Astronomy meeting 21-22/09/2013 Queen's University Belfast / Armagh Observatory 50
Society for Popular Astronomy meeting 12/10/2013 Institute of Astrophysics, Cambridge 200
Society for Popular Astronomy meeting 26/10/2013 London 200
Doctor Who Science Festival 16/11/2013 UCLan 1000
Society for Popular Astronomy meeting 07/12/2013 Cardiff 100

All talks received positive feedback
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013