Thesis Topic: High-mass Star Formation at High-Angular Resolution


Thesis Supervisor: Liz Humphreys and Ciriaco Goddi





The process by which high-mass stars (> 8 Msun) form is not well-understood. However, high-mass stars are very important components in the ecology of the interstellar medium and the evolution of galaxies. When young they disrupt parent molecular clouds, driving powerful outflows and emitting enormous UV fluxes that ionise HII regions. When old they explode as supernova and enrich the interstellar medium with heavy elements, thereby influencing chemical and thermodynamic processes, and planting seed material from which planets can ultimately form.

This project aims to obtain a better understanding of high-mass star formation by performing a comparative study of sites of high-mass star formation that display SiO maser (radio laser) emission. Such sites are very rare, in fact only three are currently known to exist. The project will involve study of the 3 regions using multi-wavelength observations, and radiative transfer modelling, to determine whether these are indeed rare cases of extreme, violent star-formation "gone wrong", or simply a short-lived phase common to much of high-mass star formation. For each source, formation mechanisms will be identified (e.g., accretion/outflow structures) and evidence elucidating the role of magnetic fields in high-mass star formation will be sought. The project will include radio/submillimetre single-dish and interferometry observations, and a survey of the relatively unstudied Southern sky to search for more SiO maser star-forming sources.

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