An image of the Central Molecular Zone in three colors from the Herschel space telescope with the words Professor Cara Battersby on top in script.

Contact Information


Office: Gant South S-113F

Virtual Office:

Phone: (860 ) 486-3988

Address: Department of Physics
196A Auditorium Rd, Unit 3046
Storrs, CT 06269-3046

Dr. Cara Battersby is an assistant professor of physics at the University of Connecticut, specializing in observational astrophysics. Prof. Battersby studies how stars are born in our Galaxy’s Central Molecular Zone (CMZ) by combining large observational surveys and numerical simulations.

Prof. Battersby has authored over 60 publications and given over 50 invited research presentations. Read more about her research, team, and accolades

In 2017, Prof. Battersby founded the Milky Way Laboratory, a research group at the University of Connecticut that specializes in using our home Galaxy as a laboratory for understanding star formation throughout the cosmos.

An image of Dr. Cara Battersby

RSS Recent Publications

  • Dynamically Driven Inflow onto the Galactic Center and its Effect upon Molecular Clouds June 15, 2021
    The Galactic bar plays a critical role in the evolution of the Milky Way's Central Molecular Zone (CMZ), as its potential drives mass inward toward the Galactic Center via gas flows known as dust lanes. To explore the interaction between the CMZ and the dust lanes, we run hydrodynamic simulations in Arepo, modeling the potential […]
    H Perry Hatchfield
  • Star formation in 'the Brick': ALMA reveals an active proto-cluster in the Galactic centre cloud G0.253+0.016 February 6, 2021
    G0.253+0.016, aka 'the Brick', is one of the most massive (> 10^5 Msun) and dense (> 10^4 cm-3) molecular clouds in the Milky Way's Central Molecular Zone. Previous observations have detected tentative signs of active star formation, most notably a water maser that is associated with a dust continuum source. We present ALMA Band 6 […]
    Daniel L. Walker
  • Fiery Cores: Bursty and Smooth Star Formation Distributions across Galaxy Centers in Cosmological Zoom-in Simulations January 26, 2021
    We present an analysis of the $R\lesssim 1.5$ kpc core regions of seven simulated Milky Way mass galaxies, from the FIRE-2 (Feedback in Realistic Environments) cosmological zoom-in simulation suite, for a finely sampled period ($\Delta t = 2.2$ Myr) of 22 Myr at $z \approx 0$, and compare them with star formation rate (SFR) and […]
    Matthew E. Orr
  • ALMA Observations of Massive Clouds in the Central Molecular Zone: Ubiquitous Protostellar Outflows January 20, 2021
    We observe 1.3~mm spectral lines at 2000~AU resolution toward four massive molecular clouds in the Central Molecular Zone of the Galaxy to investigate their star formation activities. We focus on several potential shock tracers that are usually abundant in protostellar outflows, including SiO, SO, CH$_3$OH, H$_2$CO, HC$_3$N, and HNCO. We identify 43 protostellar outflows, including […]
    Xing Lu
  • CMZoom II: Catalog of Compact Submillimeter Dust Continuum Sources in the Milky Way's Central Molecular Zone September 10, 2020
    In this paper we present the CMZoom Survey's catalog of compact sources (< 10'', ~0.4pc) within the Central Molecular Zone (CMZ). CMZoom is a Submillimeter Array (SMA) large program designed to provide a complete and unbiased map of all high column density gas (N(H$_2$) $\geq$ 10$^{23}$ cm$^{-2}$) of the innermost 500pc of the Galaxy in […]
    H Perry Hatchfield
  • CMZoom: Survey Overview and First Data Release July 9, 2020
    We present an overview of the CMZoom survey and its first data release. CMZoom is the first blind, high-resolution survey of the Central Molecular Zone (CMZ; the inner 500 pc of the Milky Way) at wavelengths sensitive to the pre-cursors of high-mass stars. CMZoom is a 500-hour Large Program on the Submillimeter Array (SMA) that […]
    Cara Battersby
  • Ubiquitous velocity fluctuations throughout the molecular interstellar medium July 3, 2020
    The density structure of the interstellar medium (ISM) determines where stars form and release energy, momentum, and heavy elements, driving galaxy evolution. Density variations are seeded and amplified by gas motion, but the exact nature of this motion is unknown across spatial scale and galactic environment. Although dense star-forming gas likely emerges from a combination […]
    J. D. Henshaw
  • ALMA Observations of Massive Clouds in the Central Molecular Zone: Jeans Fragmentation and Cluster Formation April 20, 2020
    We report ALMA Band 6 continuum observations of 2000 AU resolution toward four massive molecular clouds in the Central Molecular Zone of the Galaxy. To study gas fragmentation, we use the dendrogram method to identify cores as traced by the dust continuum emission. The four clouds exhibit different fragmentation states at the observed resolution despite […]
    Xing Lu


  • Final Group Meeting of the Semester
    We had our final group meeting and presentations of the semester yesterday. This fantastic group has done so much incredible research this semester, all while being a supportive, welcoming, and friendly group – even having fun together at times. Thank you all for being a part of the Milky Way Laboratory! ☺️🤩🥳  
  • Protostellar Outflows Detected in the Galactic Center!
    Postdoc Daniel Walker in our group has published a paper reporting some of the very first detections of protostellar outflows1 in our Galaxy’s Center! These outflows are found toward “The Brick” cloud (G0.253+0.016), which previously showed tentative signs of active star formation. Using ALMA Band 6 data, Dr. Walker found 18 continuum sources, 9 of […]
  • Fiery Cores Published
    From the UConn Astronomy meeting room whiteboard (left) to ApJ letters (right) in just over a year! Read all about the distribution of star formation and gas in Galaxy Centers from cosmological zoom-in simulations. We find that there are two classes of centers: bursty and smooth. The bursty centers are the only ones able to […]