In Summer 2021, the Milky Way Laboratory was awarded an NSF grant entitled: “Uncovering the Seeds of Star Clusters across the Galaxy.” This grant is focused on utilizing the ALMAGAL large survey to address fundamental questions about how stars form across our Galaxy’s disk.
Overview: The majority of stars in the Universe formed in a clustered environment. Large- scale surveys of our Galaxy have revealed dense clumps of molecular gas that are the pre- cursors to these star clusters. However, lack of spatial resolution has limited our ability to observe the deep substructure within these forming star clusters and to measure the individual star-forming cores within them. Understanding the process by which dense proto-cluster clumps fragment into star-forming cores and the role that Galactic environment plays is of utmost importance in developing a predictive theory of star and cluster formation that can be broadly applied throughout the cosmos.
The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is pioneering new territory with its ability to uncover fragmentation on core scales (0.01 pc) across the Galaxy. With the advent of the ALMAGAL large program, we now have access to statistically significant samples of cores as a function of Galactic environment and evolutionary stage for the first time.
As part of this grant, we plan to expand the reach of ALMAGAL, which will openly share all its data products with the astrophysics community, to the broader community by integrating this unprecedented dataset into the WorldWide Telescope (WWT) platform and developing an educational tour entitled: Zooming in on Star Formation across the Galaxy.