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Toward a Complete Spectroscopic and Imaging Survey of Giant Molecular Clouds



Project Summary

Giant Molecular Clouds (GMCs) are the dominant sites of star formation in the Galaxy, yet the nature and distribution of their young stellar content has yet to be thoroughly or systematically investigated due to the large distances to and large angular sizes of the clouds. We are using the world’s first near-IR multi-object spectrometer called FLAMINGOS, on the Kitt Peak 2.1-m and 4-m telescopes to obtain sensitive near-IR imaging surveys and for the first time extensive near-IR spectral classifications for stars in GMCs.  The goals of this survey are to determine the number and spatial extent of young stars in the clouds and to measure their ages and masses. The data will also be used to study the inital mass function and to address such fundamental issues as the variations of star formation efficiency and rate from cloud to cloud, the formation of clusters and sequential star formation.

Investigators: Elizabeth Lada(PI), Richard Elston, Joao Alves, Bruno Ferreira, Chris Foltz,  Charles Lada, Joanna Levine, August Muench, Nick Raines, Noah Rashkind, Carlos Roman

FLAMINGOS was designed and constructed by the IR instrumentation group (PI: R. Elston) at the University of Florida, Department of Astronomy with support from NSF grant (AST97-31180) and Kitt Peak National Observatory.  The data were collected under the NOAO Survey Program, "Towards a Complete Near-Infrared Spectroscopic Survey of Giant Molecular Clouds" (PI: E. Lada) and supported by NSF grants, AST97-3367 and AST02-02976 to the University of Florida.