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Astronomy Colloquium

Wednesday, February 22, 2023
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Cahill, Hameetman Auditorium
Star and Cluster Formation in Nearby Galaxies
Janice Lee, Chief Scientist, NSF's NOIR Lab, Gemini Observatory,

How do stars form from gas? Decades of observations across the electromagnetic spectrum have taught us that the mechanisms that drive, regulate, and extinguish star formation operate together over a vast range of stellar, interstellar, galactic, and circumgalactic scales. Our attempts to parameterize the ingredients, processes, and products through concepts such as "simple" stellar populations, giant molecular "clouds," their associated mass functions, and global star formation laws have been key to both advancing and revealing basic gaps in our understanding. In particular, whether star and cluster formation are dependent on the greater galactic environment has been an area of active work, as answers are needed to determine the validity of extrapolating our locally-tested framework to the rest of the Universe. In this talk, I will present results from multi-wavelength surveys of nearby galaxies, including LEGUS and PHANGS, which have conducted inventories of stellar clusters, HII regions, and molecular clouds, to probe the environmental dependence of star formation. I will also highlight early results and future work with JWST. For the first time throughout nearby galaxies beyond the Local Group, the high-resolution and sensitivity of JWST is enabling study the invisible sites of the earliest stages of star formation and intricate structure of the dusty ISM at ~5-50 pc resolution.

To view this talk on YouTube, please visit:

For more information, please contact Dimitri Mawet by email at [email protected] or visit