Scientific Rationale

JD14 of the XXVII IAU General Assembly, Rio de Janero, Brasil.

The next several years will an significant increase in our ability to probe the Universe at far-infrared and submillimetre wavelengths, as instruments such as ALMA, Herschel, Sofia or the Stratospheric TerraHertz Observatory begin to collect observations. Other instruments are already opening up the parameter space in this region of the spectrum such as SPITZER, APEX and NANTEN2. The motivation for this JD is to bring together the community of observers and theorists who can utilise the data at these wavelengths to probe the ISM in Galaxies from our own to high-Z to discuss where we are now, and how to proceed to the future.

Understanding the chemical and dynamical processes operating in the interstellar medium on a wide variety of scales is central to our understanding of galaxies themselves. It is clear that the life cycles of massive stars have a dramatic impact on the interstellar medium of galaxies, but whether, and how, the cyclic processes of star formation vary with the morphological type of the galaxy is not so clear. Answering this latter question can tell us much about the evolution of the ISM in galaxies, and about star formation in our own galaxy.

One of the major diffculties in understanding the effect of the star formation cycle on the various phases of the ISM is that the bulk of the radiation from young, deeply embedded objects is radiated at far infrared and sub-millimetre wavelengths, windows which are only now beginning to open up with the advent of space and high-altitude observatories such as Spitzer and Herschel. Results from these instruments, together with the unprecedented angular resolution and sensitivity of ALMA, will revolutionise out understanding of how the cyclical process of star formation shapes the interstellar medium in galaxies and the cyclical processes of star formation in the latter part of this decade.

Back to JD14 Homepage

Back to IAU XXVII General Assembly Homepage