Kristen Thompson: The Role of Magnetic Fields in the Star Formation Process
TriStar Astronomy Conference Kristen Thompson, Davidson College "The Role of Magnetic Fields in the Star Formation Process" The details of the star formation process are not well understood, despite many theoretical and observational studies. It has long been known that stars form in the gravitational collapse of an interstellar molecular cloud. However, the formation process has been found to be very inefficient, with the observed star formation rate nearly 100 times less than expected if clouds collapse and form stars on the free-fall time scale. This suggests that internal mechanisms of cloud support likely play an important role in the evolution of a molecular cloud. Two prevailing theories of star formation have thus emerged, one placing emphasis on the support provided by magnetic fields, and the other on turbulence. To distinguish between these two models of star formation, I have executed the first observational survey designed to determine the role of magnetic fields in the inter-core regions of molecular clouds. I will present the findings of this study and discuss what they may tell us about the role of magnetic fields in star formation.
Guilford Technical Community College
3/1/2014 7:00:00 PM

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