In the Cat’s Paw: Young Stars in NGC 6334

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Date/Time:Friday, 19 Oct 2012 from 4:10 pm to 5:00 pm
Location:Room 3
Contact:Massimo Marengo
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Research talk by Sarah Willis, ISU Physics and Astronomy graduate student.

The Cat's Paw Nebula, or NGC 6334, is a giant molecular cloud with a complex history of star formation located approximately 1.6 kpc away in the plane of the Milky Way Galaxy. The cloud's large gas mass (>10^5 Mo) and bright far-infrared luminosity identify it as a local analog to the unresolved sites of star formation found in other galaxies. Observing high mass Galactic regions such as NGC 6334 will provide the missing link necessary to match empirical relations between the efficiency / rate of star formation and the global properties of the molecular cloud derived from nearby, lower mass star forming regions to results from other galaxies. We have obtained and analyzed near- and mid-infrared observations of this region which uncovered almost 4,000 young stars nestled within the intricate structure of the cloud complex. I will describe how we identified these stars and what we are learning about the formation of massive stars and the role of environment from this impressive star forming region.