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Astronomy Colloquium
"Star Formation and Gas in Nearby Galaxies"
Date: Tuesday, January 26th
Time: 3:30 pm
Place: 3425 Sterling Hall
Speaker: Adam Leroy, NRAO
Abstract: I will discuss what recent multiwavelength surveys tell us about why stars form where they do in galaxies and what makes the ISM good at forming stars. The question is an open one, with results in the last few years variously identifying gravitational stability, metallicity, pressure, opacity, and collisions in the ISM as the regulating quantity. From large programs with the IRAM 30m ("HERACLES") and the VLA ("THINGS") we know the distribution of atomic and molecular gas in several dozen galaxies that have also been observed by Spitzer and GALEX (and are now being mapped by Herschel). These data allow us to estimate a range of physical conditions over kiloparsec-sized resolution elements across each galaxy (e.g., the star formation rate, HI mass, H2 mass, stellar mass, kinematics, dust-to-gas ratio). We are using these estimates to push beyond galaxy-averaged scaling relations, testing proposed local drivers for the formation of molecular clouds and stars from diffuse neutral gas. I will summarize these tests and give our current best answers to the basic question: "where is the interstellar medium good at forming stars?"
Host: Prof Snezana Stanirmirovic
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