5705 Insights on Star Formation in the Milky Way: Cold, Dusty Beginnings

Saturday, February 18, 2012: 10:00 AM
Room 109 (VCC West Building)
Peter G. Martin , University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Stars are born in dusty molecular clouds.  Heated only by the ambient interstellar radiation field, the dust that is present in clouds before stars form is so cold as to be invisible – or so it was before the Herschel Space Observatory, with its penetrating submillimeter vision.  Now we have the privilege of probing the structure of these clouds, tracing their evolutionary path from diffuse material through dense filaments and gravitationally-bound clumps to newly-born stars and clusters of stars.  Although we are still far from an ab initio predictive theory of star formation, it is tantalizing to think that one day we might understand the complex and turbulent phenomena that lead to stars like the Sun.