From National Radio Astronomy Observatory (US) and MPG Institute for Radio Astronomy[MPG Institut für Radioastronomie](DE): “New Study Reveals Previously Unseen Star Formation in Milky Way”

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From National Radio Astronomy Observatory (US)

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MPG Institute for Radio Astronomy[MPG Institut für Radioastronomie](DE)

July 22, 2021

Dave Finley, Public Information Officer
(505) 241-9210
dfinley@nrao.edu

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Credit: Brunthaler et al., Sophia Dagnello, NRAO/Associated Universities Inc (US)/National Science Foundation (US).

Astronomers using two of the world’s most powerful radio telescopes have made a detailed and sensitive survey of a large segment of our home galaxy — the Milky Way — detecting previously unseen tracers of massive star formation, a process that dominates galactic ecosystems. The scientists combined the capabilities of the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) and the 100-meter Effelsberg Telescope in Germany to produce high-quality data that will serve researchers for years to come.

Stars with more than about ten times the mass of our Sun are important components of the Galaxy and strongly affect their surroundings. However, understanding how these massive stars are formed has proved challenging for astronomers. In recent years, this problem has been tackled by studying the Milky Way at a variety of wavelengths, including radio and infrared. This new survey, called GLOSTAR (Global view of the Star formation in the Milky Way), was designed to take advantage of the vastly improved capabilities that an upgrade project completed in 2012 gave the VLA to produce previously unobtainable data.

GLOSTAR has excited astronomers with new data on the birth and death processes of massive stars, as well on the tenuous material between the stars. The GLOSTAR team of researchers has published a series of papers in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics reporting initial results of their work, including detailed studies of several individual objects.

“A Global View on Star Formation: The GLOSTAR Galactic Plane Survey. I. Overview and first results for the Galactic longitude range 28°< l < 36°”
https://www.aanda.org/articles/aa/full_html/2021/07/aa39856-20/aa39856-20.html

“A Global View on Star Formation: The GLOSTAR Galactic Plane Survey. II. Supernova remnants in the first quadrant of the Milky Way?”
https://www.aanda.org/articles/aa/full_html/2021/07/aa39873-20/aa39873-20.html

“A Global View on Star Formation: The GLOSTAR Galactic Plane Survey. III. 6.7 GHz Methanol maser survey in Cygnus X”
https://www.aanda.org/articles/aa/full_html/2021/07/aa40817-21/aa40817-21.html

“A Global View on Star Formation: The GLOSTAR Galactic Plane Survey. IV. Radio continuum detections of young stellar objects in the Galactic Centre Region”
https://www.aanda.org/articles/aa/full_html/2021/07/aa40802-21/aa40802-21.html

Observations continue and more results will be published later.

The survey detected telltale tracers of the early stages of massive star formation, including compact regions of hydrogen gas ionized by the powerful radiation from young stars, and radio emission from methanol (wood alcohol) molecules that can pinpoint the location of very young stars still deeply shrouded by the clouds of gas and dust in which they are forming.

The survey also found many new remnants of supernova explosions — the dramatic deaths of massive stars. Previous studies had found fewer than a third of the expected number of supernova remnants in the Milky Way. In the region it studied, GLOSTAR more than doubled the number found using the VLA data alone, with more expected to appear in the Effelsberg data.

“This is an important step to solve this longstanding mystery of the missing supernova remnants,” said Rohit Dokara, a Ph.D student at the MPG Institute for Radio Astronomy[MPG Institut für Radioastronomie](DE) and lead author on a paper about the remnants.

The GLOSTAR team combined data from the VLA and the Effelsberg telescope to obtain a complete view of the region they studied. The multi-antenna VLA — an interferometer — combines the signals from widely-separated antennas to make images with very high resolution that show small details. However, such a system often cannot also detect large-scale structures. The 100-meter-diameter Effelsberg telescope provided the data on structures larger than those the VLA could detect, making the image complete.

“This clearly demonstrates that the Effelberg telescope is still very crucial, even after 50 years of operation,” said Andreas Brunthaler of MPIfR, project leader and first author of the survey’s overview paper.

Visible light is strongly absorbed by dust, which radio waves can readily penetrate. Radio telescopes are essential to revealing the dust-shrouded regions in which young stars form.

The results from GLOSTAR, combined with other radio and infrared surveys, “offers astronomers a nearly complete census of massive star-forming clusters at various stages of formation, and this will have lasting value for future studies,” said team member William Cotton, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), who is an expert in combining interferometer and single-telescope data.

“GLOSTAR is the first map of the Galactic Plane at radio wavelengths that detects many of the important star formation tracers at high spatial resolution. The detection of atomic and molecular spectral lines is critical to determine the location of star formation and to better understand the structure of the Galaxy,” said Dana Balser, also of NRAO.

The initiator of GLOSTAR, the MPIfR’s Karl Menten, added, “It’s great to see the beautiful science resulting from two of our favorite radio telescopes joining forces.”

See the full article here .


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The MPG Institute for Radio Astronomy [MPG Institut für Radioastronomie] (DE) is located in Bonn, Germany. It is one of 80 institutes in the MPG Society.

By combining the already existing radio astronomy faculty of the University of Bonn led by Otto Hachenberg with the new MPG institute the MPG Institute for Radio Astronomy was formed. In 1972 the 100-m radio telescope in Effelsberg was opened. The institute building was enlarged in 1983 and 2002.

The institute was founded in 1966 by the MPG Society as the “MPG Institut für Radioastronomie (MPIfR) (DE)”.

The foundation of the institute was closely linked to plans in the German astronomical community to construct a competitive large radio telescope in (then) West Germany. In 1964, Professors Friedrich Becker, Wolfgang Priester and Otto Hachenberg of the Astronomische Institute der Universität Bonn submitted a proposal to the Stiftung Volkswagenwerk for the construction of a large fully steerable radio telescope.

In the same year the Stiftung Volkswagenwerk approved the funding of the telescope project but with the condition that an organization should be found, which would guarantee the operations. It was clear that the operation of such a large instrument was well beyond the possibilities of a single university institute.

Already in 1965 the MPG Society decided in principle to found the MPG Institut für Radioastronomie. Eventually, after a series of discussions, the institute was officially founded in 1966.

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MPG Institute for the Advancement of Science [MPG zur Förderung der Wissenschaften e. V](DE) is Germany’s most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, no fewer than 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, putting it on a par with the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The more than 15,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at MPG Institutes – and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field.

What is the basis of this success? The scientific attractiveness of the MPG Society is based on its understanding of research: MPG institutes are built up solely around the world’s leading researchers. They themselves define their research subjects and are given the best working conditions, as well as free reign in selecting their staff. This is the core of the Harnack principle, which dates back to Adolph von Harnack, the first president of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, which was established in 1911. This principle has been successfully applied for nearly one hundred years. The MPG Society continues the tradition of its predecessor institution with this structural principle of the person-centered research organization.

The currently 83 MPG Institutes and facilities conduct basic research in the service of the general public in the natural sciences, life sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. MPG Institutes focus on research fields that are particularly innovative, or that are especially demanding in terms of funding or time requirements. And their research spectrum is continually evolving: new institutes are established to find answers to seminal, forward-looking scientific questions, while others are closed when, for example, their research field has been widely established at universities. This continuous renewal preserves the scope the Max Planck Society needs to react quickly to pioneering scientific developments.

MPG Society for the Advancement of Science [MPG Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften e. V.] is a formally independent non-governmental and non-profit association of German research institutes founded in 1911 as the Kaiser Wilhelm Society and renamed the MPG Society in 1948 in honor of its former president, theoretical physicist Max Planck. The society is funded by the federal and state governments of Germany as well as other sources.

According to its primary goal, the MPG Society supports fundamental research in the natural, life and social sciences, the arts and humanities in its 83 (as of January 2014) MPG institutes. The society has a total staff of approximately 17,000 permanent employees, including 5,470 scientists, plus around 4,600 non-tenured scientists and guests. Society budget for 2015 was about €1.7 billion.

The MPG Institutes focus on excellence in research. The MPG Society has a world-leading reputation as a science and technology research organization, with 33 Nobel Prizes awarded to their scientists, and is generally regarded as the foremost basic research organization in Europe and the world. In 2013, the Nature Publishing Index placed the MPG institutes fifth worldwide in terms of research published in Nature journals (after Harvard University (US), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US), Stanford University (US) and the National Institutes of Health (US)). In terms of total research volume (unweighted by citations or impact), the MPG Society is only outranked by the Chinese Academy of Sciences [中国科学院] (CN), the Russian Academy of Sciences [Росси́йская акаде́мия нау́к](RU) and Harvard University. The Thomson Reuters-Science Watch website placed the Max Planck Society as the second leading research organization worldwide following Harvard University, in terms of the impact of the produced research over science fields.

[The blog owner wishes to editorialize: I do not think all of this boasting is warranted when the combined forces of the MPG Society are being weighed against individual universities and institutions. It is not the combined forces of the cited schools and institutions, that could make some sense. No, it is each separate institution standing on its own.]

The MPG Society and its predecessor Kaiser Wilhelm Society hosted several renowned scientists in their fields, including Otto Hahn, Werner Heisenberg, and Albert Einstein.

History

The organization was established in 1911 as the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, or Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft (KWG), a non-governmental research organization named for the then German emperor. The KWG was one of the world’s leading research organizations; its board of directors included scientists like Walther Bothe, Peter Debye, Albert Einstein, and Fritz Haber. In 1946, Otto Hahn assumed the position of President of KWG, and in 1948, the society was renamed the MPG Society after its former President (1930–37) Max Planck, who died in 1947.

The MPG Society has a world-leading reputation as a science and technology research organization. In 2006, the Times Higher Education Supplement rankings of non-university research institutions (based on international peer review by academics) placed the MPG Society as No.1 in the world for science research, and No.3 in technology research (behind AT&T Corporation and the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory (US).

The domain mpg.de attracted at least 1.7 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a Compete.com study.

MPG Institutes and research groups

The MPG Society consists of over 80 research institutes. In addition, the society funds a number of MPG Research Groups (MPRG) and International MPG Research Schools (IMPRS). The purpose of establishing independent research groups at various universities is to strengthen the required networking between universities and institutes of the MPG Society.

The research units are primarily located across Europe with a few in South Korea and the U.S. In 2007, the Society established its first non-European centre, with an institute on the Jupiter campus of Florida Atlantic University (US) focusing on neuroscience.

The MPG Institutes operate independently from, though in close cooperation with, the universities, and focus on innovative research which does not fit into the university structure due to their interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary nature or which require resources that cannot be met by the state universities.

Internally, MPG Institutes are organized into research departments headed by directors such that each MPG institute has several directors, a position roughly comparable to anything from full professor to department head at a university. Other core members include Junior and Senior Research Fellows.

In addition, there are several associated institutes:

International Max Planck Research Schools
Together with the Association of Universities and other Education Institutions in Germany, the MPG Society established numerous International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS) to promote junior scientists:

Cologne Graduate School of Ageing Research, Cologne
International Max Planck Research School for Intelligent Systems, at the MPG Institute for Intelligent Systems (DE) located in Tübingen and Stuttgart
International Max Planck Research School on Adapting Behavior in a Fundamentally Uncertain World (Uncertainty School), at the Max Planck Institutes for Economics, for Human Development, and/or Research on Collective Goods
International Max Planck Research School for Analysis, Design and Optimization in Chemical and Biochemical Process Engineering, Magdeburg
International Max Planck Research School for Astronomy and Cosmic Physics, Heidelberg at the MPG for Astronomy
International Max Planck Research School for Astrophysics, Garching at the MPG Institute for Astrophysics
International Max Planck Research School for Complex Surfaces in Material Sciences, Berlin
International Max Planck Research School for Computer Science, Saarbrücken
International Max Planck Research School for Earth System Modeling, Hamburg
International Max Planck Research School for Elementary Particle Physics, Munich, at the MPG Institute for Physics
International Max Planck Research School for Environmental, Cellular and Molecular Microbiology, Marburg at the MPG Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology
International Max Planck Research School for Evolutionary Biology, Plön at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology
International Max Planck Research School “From Molecules to Organisms”, Tübingen at the MPG Institute for Developmental Biology
International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Jena at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
International Max Planck Research School on Gravitational Wave Astronomy, Hannover and Potsdam MPG Institute for Gravitational Physics
International Max Planck Research School for Heart and Lung Research, Bad Nauheim at the MPG Institute for Heart and Lung Research
International Max Planck Research School for Infectious Diseases and Immunity, Berlin at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology
International Max Planck Research School for Language Sciences, Nijmegen
International Max Planck Research School for Neurosciences, Göttingen
International Max Planck Research School for Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience, Tübingen
International Max Planck Research School for Marine Microbiology (MarMic), joint program of the MPG Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, the University of Bremen [Universität Bremen](DE), the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, and the Jacobs University Bremen [Jacobs Universität Bremen] (DE)
International Max Planck Research School for Maritime Affairs, Hamburg
International Max Planck Research School for Molecular and Cellular Biology, Freiburg
International Max Planck Research School for Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences, Munich
International Max Planck Research School for Molecular Biology, Göttingen
International Max Planck Research School for Molecular Cell Biology and Bioengineering, Dresden
International Max Planck Research School Molecular Biomedicine, program combined with the ‘Graduate Programm Cell Dynamics And Disease’ at the University of Münster (DE) and the MPG Institute for Molecular Biomedicine (DE)
International Max Planck Research School on Multiscale Bio-Systems, Potsdam
International Max Planck Research School for Organismal Biology, at the University of Konstanz [Universität Konstanz] (DE) and the MPG Institute for Ornithology (DE)
International Max Planck Research School on Reactive Structure Analysis for Chemical Reactions (IMPRS RECHARGE), Mülheim an der Ruhr, at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion (DE)
International Max Planck Research School for Science and Technology of Nano-Systems, Halle at MPG Institute of Microstructure Physics (DE)
International Max Planck Research School for Solar System Science at the University of Göttingen – Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (DE) hosted by MPG Institute for Solar System Research [Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung] (DE)
International Max Planck Research School for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Bonn, at the MPG Institute for Radio Astronomy [MPG Institut für Radioastronomie] (DE) (formerly the International Max Planck Research School for Radio and Infrared Astronomy)
International Max Planck Research School for the Social and Political Constitution of the Economy, Cologne
International Max Planck Research School for Surface and Interface Engineering in Advanced Materials, Düsseldorf at MPG Institute for Iron Research [MPG Institut für Eisenforschung] (DE)
International Max Planck Research School for Ultrafast Imaging and Structural Dynamics, Hamburg

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

Access to ALMA observing time by the North American astronomical community will be through the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC).

*The Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) comprises ten radio telescopes spanning 5,351 miles. It’s the world’s largest, sharpest, dedicated telescope array. With an eye this sharp, you could be in Los Angeles and clearly read a street sign in New York City!

Astronomers use the continent-sized VLBA to zoom in on objects that shine brightly in radio waves, long-wavelength light that’s well below infrared on the spectrum. They observe blazars, quasars, black holes, and stars in every stage of the stellar life cycle. They plot pulsars, exoplanets, and masers, and track asteroids and planets.