interstellar medium

This tag is associated with 37 posts

Tipping the Spherical Cow: The Initial Conditions of Star Formation

Spherical cows have a long and storied history in physics, but does this type of crude approximation lead to realistic conclusions in the case of star formation? The combination of large- and small- scale simulations tests this idea.

Filling the redshift gap with carbon monoxide mapping

Can we find galaxies using the light emitted by their star forming regions? The authors of this paper explore a technique that would allow us to reach relatively unexplored epochs of the Universe.

Massive Stars Don’t Make Good Neighbors

Massive stars emit energetic radiation and expel strong winds that can disrupt their natal environments. New simulations show that these effects are important in the evolution of stellar nurseries and can account for some of the observed low efficiency of star formation.

Astrophysical Classics: The Observed Relation between Star Formation and Gas in Galaxies

In today’s “astrophysical classic”, we delve into the seminal paper behind the Kennicutt-Schmidt relation, the empirical correlation between the star formation rate and gas density.

Has IBEX detected eddies in the spacetime continuum?

Douglas Adams’ fictional Ford Prefect famously warned us of eddies in the spacetime continuum. Has the IBEX spacecraft now found evidence that they really exist?

Probing high redshifts with gamma-ray bursts

Gamma-ray bursts are the most energetic explosions in the Universe. Today, we discuss how to use one GRB as a beacon to study the properties of a high redshift galaxy, the composition of the gas in the intergalactic medium at high redshift and the formation of dust in the Universe.

HAWK-I image of the Sickle

The Mystery of the Sickle in the Carina Nebula

There’s a strange sickle-shaped object in the Carina Nebula. The authors of this paper used observations at several different wavelengths to investigate the nature of this intriguing nebula, leading to some interesting discoveries and even more questions.

The Whirlpool Galaxy Like You’ve Never Seen it Before

It’s big, it’s active, and it’s only 20 million lightyears away– it is the Whirlpool galaxy, and astronomers are getting a brand new view. Using the Plateau de Bure interferometer, this paper examines the gas in this nearby grand-design spiral galaxy on arcsecond scales, resolving for the first time its individual molecular clouds. What does this tell us about star formation in this galaxy? Stay tuned!

Figure 3: formaldehyde maps

The Hot, Irradiated Center of our Milky Way

Unlike its candy bar namesake, the center of our Milky Way Galaxy is not actually a very pleasant place to be. There’s a supermassive central black hole to deal with, intense radiation from a population of massive stars, and hot clouds of molecular gas. In this paper, the authors use observations of three molecular spectral lines to measure the temperatures of these gas clouds in the center of the Galaxy, and find that the processes heating the clouds may not be what you expect!

The simulated X-factor

The constant X-factor, why is it constant?

There is a long standing debate on whether the X-factor, the conversion factor between molecular hydrogen and carbon monoxide in molecular clouds, is constant in our Galaxy. This is a very important assumption we usually make when studying star formation! In this post, we explore state-of-the-art simulations by Narayanan & Hopkins that attempt to settle this debate.

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