Astrophysics Group

Cavendish Laboratory

Star Formation

An understanding of the process of star formation is an essential requirement of theories of galaxy formation and evolution, and gives direct insights into the formation of our own Sun and the number of extra-solar planets we expect to find in the Galaxy. We use telescopes operating at millimetre and sub-mm wavelengths to observe the cool molecular clouds which are collapsing to form stars and help understand the basic physics of star formation. In particular, we study the supersonic jets ejected during the star formation process, and the accretion disks surrounding the protostars which allow the stars to grow in mass and in which planets are believed to form.

We are active users of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii, and are currently planning first science observations with HARP, which will allow us to map the nearby molecular cloud population with unprecedented detail and sensitivity. We are involved in the JCMT legacy surveys of Gould Belt and the Galactic Plane . Members of the group are also investigating the nature of star formation on galactic scales — see the pages of the Galaxy Evolution group.

If you are interested in doing research in these areas, please visit our Graduate Research Opportunities web pages.