Astronomy Colloquium: Amanda Kepley
Tue. September 12th, 2017, 3:00 pm-4:00 pm
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Opening New Frontiers in the Study of Star Formation with the Next Generation of Radio Telescopes
Amanda Kepley (NRAO)
Much of what we know about the molecular gas that fuels star formation comes from observations in the Milky Way and other similar nearby galaxies. This sample only probes a relatively narrow range of galaxy properties and thus does not provide an effective test of how galaxy properties like mass, metallicity, and star formation rate affect star formation. With the advent of new instruments like Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the Green Bank Telescope (GBT), and the Jansky Very Large Array (JVLA), we are opening up new frontiers in the study of star formation by extending detailed studies of molecular gas and star formation to a wider range of galaxies. In this talk, I will present two examples of how the capabilities of new instrumentation are driving star formation studies. First, I will showcase how the massive collecting area of the GBT, combined with the power of multi-pixel feeds like ARGUS, allow us — for the first time — to map the dense molecular gas more closely associated with star formation in large samples of nearby galaxies and in lower metallicity galaxies than previously possible. Second, I will present ALMA and JVLA observationsof the molecular gas and young massive clusters in the prototypical nearby blue compact dwarf galaxy II Zw 40. These observations represent the first giant molecular cloud scale observations in a blue compact dwarf galaxy and allow us to compare the properties of its molecular clouds to those in other, less extreme systems. Finally, I will talk about how the next generation VLA (ngVLA) will enable us to extend such studies to larger samples extending out to the Coma cluster.