Department of Physics & Astronomy
University of New Mexico

Physics and Astronomy Colloquium

The Structure and Evolution of Prestellar Cores

Presented by Yancy Shirley, University of Arizona

Starless cores and gravitationally bound prestellar cores represent the initial phase of star formation prior to the formation of a protostar.  We must understand the structure and evolution of these objects if we wish to constrain the initial conditions for star formation.  Observations from the Herschel Space Observatory of optically thin dust continuum at sub-millimeter wavelengths have provided the most complete census of the hierarchical structure of nearby molecular clouds and the starless cores embedded within them.  These clouds consists largely of filamentary structures with most starless cores embedded within filaments.  Molecular line mapping observations from tracers such as NH3 probe the kinematics of the dense gas.  A rich chemistry is observed in prestellar cores, including complex organic prebiotic molecules, and this chemistry may be used to constrain the evolution of the cores. I shall review our current knowledge of the physical structure (including viral state), kinematic structure, and chemical structure of starless and prestellar cores and highlight remaining challenges to our understanding of this initial phase of star formation.

3:30 pm, Friday, September 14, 2018
Room 125, Dane Smith Hall
Southwest corner of Las Lomas and Yale, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Refreshments will be available before the colloquium, at 3:15 pm, in the lobby of Dane Smith Hall.

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