The Starmaker’s Cookbook

One of the unresolved challenges of modern astrophysics is understanding the process of star formation. How do we go about building a recipe for star formation taking into account ingredients like gravity, turbulence, powerful electromagnetic fields, and stellar feedback like supernovae and ionizing winds, and all their chaotic interactions over scales ranging from kiloparsecs all the way down to AU? How can we hope to learn about a process that takes place on a timescale a million times longer than any of us will live? Through careful observation and numerical simulation, we’ve developed extensive understanding about each of the many pieces of this puzzle, from the dynamics of molecular gas clouds down the to formation of protostellar cores and the births of planets in the disks surrounding young stars. To tie it all together, we need cutting edge hydrodynamical simulations, extensive observations from the most powerful observatories, as well as a robust framework for comparing observed reality and numerical simulation.

My work has focused on studying star formation in the Milky Way’s Galactic Center region called the Central Molecular Zone (CMZ), one of the most extreme physical environments within our Galaxy. Below are a few projects I’ve worked on. Please feel free to reach out with any questions!

The Milky Way’s central region (the central molecular zone or CMZ) contains a modern astrophysical enigma. Despite its impressive reservoir of fuel for star formation, hosting 80% of all the high density gas in the Milky Way, the CMZ appears to be forming far fewer stars than we would expect. The CMZoom survey was designed to take a complete look at the high density clouds of the CMZ and to generate a catalog of…

Read more about this work here!

Hydrodynamic Simulations of the Galactic Center

In order to better understand the role that Galactic scale dynamical forces have on the properties of the Milky Way’s Galactic Center, we run high resolution hydrodynamical simulations to model the gas flows in the innermost few kiloparsecs. The dominant component to the gravitational potential is the Milky Ways’ stellar bar, an asymmetrical force that drives gas inwards to the CMZ. This bar-driven inflow is the primary means by which we believe the Galactic Center gains its mass. But not all the inflowing mass in accreted by the CMZ! Some fraction will overshoot and might mislead observational estimates of the inflow…

(Read more about this project here!)

Get in touch with any questions you have!

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