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Physics & Astronomy|College of Arts and Sciences

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Graduate Research

David Cook



A key unanswered question about star formation is: “How are the stars and stellar systems formed from the interstellar clouds of gas and dust?” The conversion of gas and dust into stars is one of the most fundamental processes in the universe, yet the mechanism and environmental conditions required are poorly constrained. By counting the number of star-forming regions with different luminosities, astronomers have found the relative numbers of bright regions to faint regions roughly stays the same no matter what galaxy you look at. However, as we improve the capabilities of telescopes, we have found systematic differences in these relative numbers. My thesis will study the cause of these systematic deviations via formation mechanisms and environmental contributions. The galaxy picture below shows the number of star-forming regions in the galaxy NGC2403 represented by green circles along with an example close-up of a generic star-forming region taken by the Hubble Space Telescope to show what these objects probably look like. The graphs illustrate how astronomers quantify the relative numbers of star-forming regions which allow us to measure how the formation mechanism and environment affect the star formation process.



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