ALMA observations of complex fiber networks

Supervisor: Alvaro Hacar (Institute for Astrophysics, IfA-Vienna) & Mario Tafalla (OAN-CNIG, Spain), in collaboration with the ALMA Dutch ARC-node Allegro (Leiden University, The Netherlands) 

Funding Situation: supervisor has secured funding

Project outline: High-mass stars drive the physical and chemical evolution of the Universe. However, the connection of these massive objects with the initial properties of their gas embryos remains largely controversial.  Large-scale molecular surveys have demonstrated the existence of a new and fundamental filamentary gas unit, the so-called fibers. Fibers play a pivotal role in the star-formation process. Fibers are the first objects decoupled from the turbulent cascade and the first gas structures dominated by gravity inside clouds. Fibers also fragment and form most of the stars in the solar neighbourhood. Recent Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) observations have identified complex fiber networks as the birthplace of high-mass stars in regions such as Orion. The discovery of these fiber systems opens a new route to investigate the origin of some of the most massive stars and clusters in our Galaxy.   As part of the new EMERGE ERC-StG project (see this PhD work will explore a novel large-scale ALMA survey of massive fiber networks extracted from its public archive. By developing a new set of state-of-the-art analysis techniques, this PhD research will characterise the statistical properties of these new fiber systems (mass, internal kinematics, spatial distribution…) across the Milky Way. In its main scientific goal, this project aims to investigate how multi-scale phenomena in complex fiber networks such as collisions, mergers, and self-gravity determine the initial conditions for the formation of high-mass stars.