The Milky Way as a Laboratory for 3D Dust and Interstellar Medium Mapping
The Milky Way is also an ideal laboratory to understand many questions about how stars are born. Stars are born from cold and dense gas and dust, part of the so-called interstellar medium (ISM), and much of their materials is returned to the ISM after the stars’ death. To understand how star formation works on the scale of galaxies, we pursue the following questions (along with <Beuther Group> <Schinnerer Group>):
What is the 3D structure of the ISM? To find out, we measure distances to, and masses of dust clouds throughout our Galaxy. This can then form a basis for understanding the “why”: What processes shape this structure?
How does star formation work in the Milky Way? Specifically, one would like to understand: What triggers star formation? Under what conditions is it efficient? And, are all or most stars born in clusters?
What are the interactions between stars and the ISM? These interactions both entail the cycling of material in an out of the ISM, but also the heating of the ISM – thereby regulating subsequent star formation – through hot stars and their final explosions.