How to 'Solve' Star Formation ?

Abstract: Twenty-two decades since Laplace's nebular hypothesis, more than a century after Barnard's revealing dark clouds, nearly 50 years after the ‘great’ discovery of CO, and a full decade of suddenly ubiquitous filaments, star formation as a sub-field of astronomy remains predominantly phenomenological, as evidenced by a glaring lack of predictive theories. For example, the elegant self-similar collapse, proposed by Shu as well as Larson, has never been observationally proven. None of the sophisticated numerical simulations managed to predict the 0.1 pc characteristic width of filaments nor the fibers within, but all claim to reproduce observation after the facts.

In the context of classical problems of star formation, I introduce our recent observational works,utilizing ALMA,  Arecibo, Herschel, FAST, FCRAO, VLA, etc. We made incremental progresses in revealing the transonic scale in massive star-forming regions, in refuting the wide-spread misunderstanding of relating CMF to IMF, in identifying the random orientation of core angular momentum w.r.t filament elongation, and in obtaining a 6 to 8 times larger CO X-factor than the commonly assumed Galactic value.  I will reflect upon possible ways for the field to develop beyond scaling laws and conclude my report in proposing a possible form/category of an answer to the question posed in the title.


Prof. Di LI @ NAOC
Meeting ID: 731 2099 7847, Password: astroPKU
Wednesday, June 24, 2020 - 2:00PM to Wednesday, June 24, 2020 - 3:00PM