Stars, Milky Way and nearby galaxies

The research of our division on stars, Milky Way and nearby galaxies includes the following directions.

Molecular clouds and star formation

Stars form in molecular clouds. Star formation is a key component in the cosmic ecosystem by closely connecting to galactic structure formation and the evolution of the interstellar medium. It also sets up initial conditions for the birth of planetary systems. Present star formation studies at SHAO include: using observations from radio and submillimeter interferometers such as the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), as well as single-dish radio telescopes such as the 65-m Tianma Radio Telescope and the James Clark Maxwell Telescope, to study filamentary structures in molecular clouds, magnetic fields inside dense clouds, low-mass and high-mass star formation process, the star formation law, core mass functions and the initial mass function, the Central Molecular Zone, interstellar masers, astrochemistry and so on. Researchers in this field include LIU Tie, LU Xing, and SHEN Zhiqiang.

Compact objects and peculiar stars

The peculiar stars, e.g., white dwarfs, neutron stars (including magnetars and pulsars), and X-ray binaries, are important for the physics of their formation and evolution. Besides, they are good tracers of the structure of the Milky Way. For more information on the investigation of X-ray binaries, see high-energy astrophysics. Researchers in this field include XIE Fu-Guo ,YAN Zhen and YU Wenfei.

Stellar and planetary astrophysics

Stars and planets together constitute complex stellar systems. The formation, structure, and evolution of stars, the evolution of binary stars and the star-planet interaction, and the formation and evolution of planetary systems are closely connected. The search for exoplanets and the study of protoplanetary disks are one of the significant advances in observational astronomy in recent years. Researchers in this field include GE Jian (see Planetary Astrophysics) and LI Yaping.

Star clusters

The origin of the single population of open clusters makes its member stars have similar physical characteristics, and include stars at various stages of evolution. It is an ideal laboratory to investigate the stellar evolution theory and provides key constraints for stellar formation and evolution models. Because of its wide age and mass distribution, the open cluster has long been regarded as an effective probe to study the formation and evolution of the Galaxy. Current research includes: the identification of new open clusters, structure formation and initial mass function of open clusters, turn-off stars and blue straggler stars in open clusters, the metallicity gradient of open clusters, and so on. Researchers in this field include CHEN Li, SHAO Zhengyi and ZHONG Jing.

Chemical-dynamical structure and evolution of Milky Way and nearby galaxies

The formation and evolution history of the Milky Way and nearby galaxies can be unraveled through detailed studies of its component stars and star clusters. The orbital distribution of the tracer populations, e.g., stars, global clusters, and PNe, are fossil record of the dynamical processes the system has been experienced; the chemical information, on the other hand, provides a timing clock of star formation. With a combination of dynamics and chemistry, the information of when and how the galactic structure are formed can be revealed. Both theoretical modeling and observational studies are carried out at SHAO. Researchers in this field include CHANG Ruixiang, FU Jian, HOU Jinliang, Rafael S. de Souza, SHAO Zhengyi, SHEN Shiyin, YIN Jun, and ZHU Ling.


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