The Formation of Stars -- From Filaments to Cores to Protostars and Protoplanetry Disks Academic Article uri icon

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  • Star formation involves the flow of gas and dust within molecular clouds into protostars and young stellar objects (YSOs) due to gravity. Along the way, these flows are shaped significantly by many other mechanisms, including pressure, turbulent motions, magnetic fields, stellar feedback, jets, and angular momentum. How all these mechanisms interact nonlinearly with each other on various length scales leads to the formation and evolution of substructures within clouds, including filaments, clumps, cores, disks, outflows, the protostars/YSOs themselves, and planets. In this white paper, prepared for the 2020 Long Range Plan panel which will recommend Canada's future directions for astronomy, we describe the observational and theoretical leadership in the star formation field that Canada's vibrant community has demonstrated over the past decade. Drawing from this extensive background, we identify five key questions that must be addressed for further progress to be made in understanding star formation in the next decade. Addressing these questions will improve our understanding of the dynamics of the dense gas and the role of the magnetic field in star formation, the optical properties of the dust used to trace mass and magnetic fields, the sources of variability in star-forming objects on short timescales, and the physical processes that specifically promote the clustering of stars. We further highlight key facilities in which Canada should become involved to continue making progress in this field. Single-dish facilities we recommend include LSST, trans-atmospheric far-infrared telescopes like BLAST-TNG and SPICA, and ground-based telescopes like JCMT, GBT, and CCAT-p. Interferometric facilities we recommend include ALMA, ngVLA, and SKA1.


  • Francesco, James Di
  • Kirk, Helen
  • Johnstone, Doug
  • Pudritz, Ralph Egon
  • Basu, Shantanu
  • Sadavoy, Sarah
  • Fissel, Laura
  • Knee, Lewis
  • Tahani, Mehrnoosh
  • Friesen, Rachel
  • Coudé, Simon
  • Rosolowsky, Erik
  • Marel, Nienke van der
  • Fich, Michel
  • Wilson, Christine D
  • Matzner, Chris
  • Dong, Ruobing
  • Matthews, Brenda
  • Schieven, Gerald

publication date

  • November 5, 2019