Colloquium on 24 May 2016
Star formation in the Milky Way and implications for other galaxies


Title: Star formation in the Milky Way and implications for other galaxies
Speaker: Jill Rathborne (CSIRO)
Date: Tuesday, 24 May 2016
Time: 15:00 - 16:00
Venue: SAAO Auditorium


The past decade has provided a wealth of new observational information about star formation on all scales. The key physical processes that determine how molecular clouds contract to form stars can only be investigated in detail up close in the Galaxy, and much of this knowledge has come from in-depth case studies of individual star-forming regions. In contrast, extragalactic studies have focused on the collective effects of star formation, integrated over entire star-forming regions or, often, over entire galaxies. As a result, much of our empirical knowledge of star formation on these scales consists of scaling laws and other parametric descriptions. Fortunately, considerably work is underway to connect these efforts. In the coming decade, ALMA will be transformational for this purpose: it will reveal dense structures within molecular clouds in other galaxies and enable a direct comparison to dense clumps found within Milky Way clouds. In this talk I will discuss results from recent surveys of star formation in the Milky Way that are relevant for making the connection to understanding star formation on galaxy-wide scales. I will also showcase recent results from ALMA that provide the first empirical evidence that the current theoretical understanding of molecular cloud structure derived from clouds in the solar neighbourhood also holds in extreme, high-pressure environments. As such, these theories may be relevant for understanding rapidly star-forming galaxies, like those in the early Universe.

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