An ALMA Workshop on Massive Star Formation

Remy Indebetouw

Figure 1: North American ALMA Science Center Workshop participants

Figure 1: North American ALMA Science Center Workshop participants


NRAO and the University of Virginia Astronomy Department hosted the third annual NAASC Workshop on Transformational Science with ALMA, September 25-27 at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville. The meeting, entitled “The Birth and Feedback of Massive Stars Within and Beyond the Galaxy,” drew record interest from the international scientific community and filled the 150-person venue to capacity. The Scientific Organizing Committee (SOC) was co-chaired by Andrew Baker (Rutgers) and Remy Indebetouw (NRAO/UVa) and included NRAO staff members Crystal Brogan and Al Wootten, and UVa faculty member Kelsey Johnson. Thanks to their efforts, those of the Local Organizing Committee (led by John Hibbard and Laurie Clark), and on-site help from NRAO’s Charlottesville IT staff, the meeting was a great success.

The SOC developed a broad program exploring massive star formation from high-resolution views of individual cores in our Galaxy to galaxy-wide scaling laws in the local Universe. The scientific scope also included the feedback effects of massive stars on their natal cores, clouds, and entire host galaxies.

Many critical issues related to using ALMA to study star formation were explored. The first day’s discussion covered such practical issues as astrochemistry, line identification, modeling, and analysis of the many molecular tracers accessible to ALMA. One transformational capability of ALMA that was highlighted was the ability to resolve individual massive protostellar cores while simultaneously having the sensitivity at large spatial scales to determine the physical conditions in the envelopes and clumps surrounding those cores. Such observations promise much improved constraints on the microphysics of massive star formation. ALMA’s impact may be even more revolutionary in nearby galaxies by providing sub-GMC scale diagnostics of dense gas throughout the local universe. The meeting explored recent progress being made in dissecting the physics behind the scaling laws relating dense or total gas density to star formation rate – observationally using multi-wavelength surveys of local galaxies and theoretically by incorporating improved molecular gas physics in large-scale simulations. Theoretical and observational talks discussed how protostellar and massive stellar feedback drives outflows, turbulence and triggers further star formation, and again the improved understanding with ALMA of these processes was highlighted. Finally, massive stellar feedback was connected to the largest scales in the evolution of entire complexes and driving of galactic outflows. Slides of presentations and posters are available at the meeting web site:

The participants included a core of millimeter and molecular cloud experts as well as important viewpoints from other wavelengths, promoting stimulating discussions between the Galactic and extragalactic communities and between long-wavelength and multi-wavelength perspectives.

Meeting participants enjoyed a first-hand look under the hood of ALMA in a stimulating tour given by engineers at the North American ALMA Front-End Integration Center, located at the NRAO Technology Center, preceded and followed by a reception hosted by the NRAO Director’s Office.