Astronomers have long turned their telescopes, be they on satellites in space or observatories on Earth, to the wide swaths of interstellar medium to get a look at the formation and birth of stars. However, the images produced over the last 50 years look more like weather maps showing storm systems instead of glittering bursts of light that the untrained observer might expect of a “star map.” That is, until now.

Led by University of Florida astronomer Peter Barnes and Erik Muller at the National Astronomy Observatory of Japan, a team of international researchers has just released the most comprehensive images anyone has ever seen of the Milky Way’s cold interstellar gas clouds where new stars and solar systems are being born.

“These images tell us amazing new things about the Milky Way’s star-forming clouds,” said Peter Barnes. “For example, they show that we have probably underestimated the amount of material in these clouds by a factor of two or three. This has important consequences for how we measure the star formation activity, not only throughout the Milky Way, but also for all other galaxies beyond. Additionally, it gives us important new insights into the circumstances of the birth of our own solar system, such as the overall temperature, density and mass distribution in these clouds.”

The complexity of the images was made possible because of the telescope used for the study, the Mopra radio telescope located in Australia. The mapping survey itself is called “ThrUMMS,” which stands for the Three-mm Ultimate Mopra Milky Way Survey. The interstellar clouds that this survey targeted are so cold that they are made up molecules of hydrogen, rather than much warmer clouds where the hydrogen may be atomic or ionized.

“Only the molecular clouds are cold enough to allow gravity to collect material to form stars, but in fact, they are so cold that the hydrogen itself is undetectable by telescopes,” said Barnes.

The Mopra telescope was critical to the project’s success, because it can map several molecules at once, such as carbon monoxide and cyanogen, which act as tracers for the otherwise hard-to-see hydrogen. Simultaneously mapping multiple tracers allows astronomers to deduce the conditions in these clouds much more reliably and efficiently than if they had to map them separately.

The worldwide ThrUMMS team includes astronomers from the U.S., Japan, Australia, the U.K., Canada and several other countries. The survey is published in the Oct. 5, 2015 issue of Astrophysical Journal.

“We are working on several follow-up projects with the Mopra data,” said Barnes. “We continue to be enthused and inspired by these extraordinary images.”

book cover for French Cinema

Traveling in French

Sylvie Blum-Reid
Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

This book covers different travel modes and tropes at play in French cinema since 1980 to the present day. It follows the archetypal figure of the traveler and the way these journeys are ‘performed.’ Films travel for us, spectators, and we in turn virtually take off with them. Examinations of departures and returns, as well as destinations and healing rituals attached to travels, take place, as do the way women travel and the urgent situation of migrants attempting to find refuge in the Global North across borders. The book questions high-speed travel, efficiency and technology at a time when slow speed and inner reflection are being revisited, and analyses film narratives that offer a way out of the daily routine and allow the traveler to escape a situation at home.

Available for purchase from palgrave macmillan

 

book cover for Getting Insiders Undergrad Research

Getting In

David G. Oppenheimer

David G. Oppenheimer is the associate professor of biology at the University of Florida, and Paris Grey, research scientist and undergraduate research mentor in Dr. Oppenheimer’s research laboratory. Available from Amazon books

Getting In helps undergraduate students find the perfect research experience while preparing them for the challenges that will be part of their life in the lab.

Getting In starts with an overview designed to help students examine what they want to gain from a research experience, what is realistic to achieve with the commitment they are willing to make, and gain a solid understanding of what will be expected of them from their research mentor.

In addition, Getting In includes direct, specific advice on how to search, apply, and interview for research positions, and includes step-by-step strategies on how to master time management and professionalism during those processes.

 

book cover for Tokaido

Tokaido Texts and Tales: Tokaido gojusan tsui by Kuniyoshi, Hiroshige, and Kunisada

Ann Wehmeyer

Ann Wehmeyer is associate professor of Japanese and linguistics at the University of Florida and the translator of Motoori Norinaga’s Kojiki-den, Book 1.

Throughout the Edo period (1615-1868), the Tokaido was the most vital road in a network of highways across Japan. Connecting Edo (modern-day Tokyo) and Kyoto, the road and its fifty-three rest stations became a popular theme for artistic expression in a variety of mediums. Read More.

Andreas Marks is head of the Japanese and Korean Art Department at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the author of Kunisada’s Tokaido: Riddles in Japanese Woodblock Prints. Laura Allen is curator of Japanese art at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and the coeditor of The Printer’s Eye: Ukiyo-e from the Grabhorn Collection.

Available from University Press of Florida.