interstellar medium

This tag is associated with 34 posts

Astrophysical Classics: The Observed Relation between Star Formation and Gas in Galaxies

In today’s “astrophysical classic”, we delve into the seminal paper behind the Kennicutt-Schmidt relation, the empirical correlation between the star formation rate and gas density.

Has IBEX detected eddies in the spacetime continuum?

Douglas Adams’ fictional Ford Prefect famously warned us of eddies in the spacetime continuum. Has the IBEX spacecraft now found evidence that they really exist?

Probing high redshifts with gamma-ray bursts

Gamma-ray bursts are the most energetic explosions in the Universe. Today, we discuss how to use one GRB as a beacon to study the properties of a high redshift galaxy, the composition of the gas in the intergalactic medium at high redshift and the formation of dust in the Universe.

HAWK-I image of the Sickle

The Mystery of the Sickle in the Carina Nebula

There’s a strange sickle-shaped object in the Carina Nebula. The authors of this paper used observations at several different wavelengths to investigate the nature of this intriguing nebula, leading to some interesting discoveries and even more questions.

The Whirlpool Galaxy Like You’ve Never Seen it Before

It’s big, it’s active, and it’s only 20 million lightyears away– it is the Whirlpool galaxy, and astronomers are getting a brand new view. Using the Plateau de Bure interferometer, this paper examines the gas in this nearby grand-design spiral galaxy on arcsecond scales, resolving for the first time its individual molecular clouds. What does this tell us about star formation in this galaxy? Stay tuned!

Figure 3: formaldehyde maps

The Hot, Irradiated Center of our Milky Way

Unlike its candy bar namesake, the center of our Milky Way Galaxy is not actually a very pleasant place to be. There’s a supermassive central black hole to deal with, intense radiation from a population of massive stars, and hot clouds of molecular gas. In this paper, the authors use observations of three molecular spectral lines to measure the temperatures of these gas clouds in the center of the Galaxy, and find that the processes heating the clouds may not be what you expect!

The simulated X-factor

The constant X-factor, why is it constant?

There is a long standing debate on whether the X-factor, the conversion factor between molecular hydrogen and carbon monoxide in molecular clouds, is constant in our Galaxy. This is a very important assumption we usually make when studying star formation! In this post, we explore state-of-the-art simulations by Narayanan & Hopkins that attempt to settle this debate.

Molecular gas not required for star formation?

Stars forming in atomic gas?? Maybe so, if the metallicity is low!

X Marks the Spot, said the Gamma Ray

A Fermi/LAT study of the ISM using gamma rays finds evidence for missing gas and variations in the CO-to-molecular gas conversion factor.

Interstellar Lithium in the Small Magellanic Cloud

What can a nearby dwarf galaxy tell us about the the chemical evolution of the universe?

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