Connecting Molecular Clouds to Clustered Star Formation using Interferometry
Mundy, Lee G.
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Stars are commonly formed in clusters in dense regions of interstellar medium called molecular clouds. In this thesis, we improve our understanding of the physics of star formation through multiple experiments involving interferometry. We use CARMA observations of filaments in Serpens and Perseus molecular clouds to study their morphology and kinematics using dense gas tracers. The observations are compared against predictions from simulations to explain how filaments form and evolve to form stars. Ammonia inversion transitions data is obtained from VLA observations of the NGC 1333 molecular cloud. From this data, we derive temperature, structural and kinematic information about the gas participating in star formation on scales from 2 parsec to 0.01 parsec, thereby connecting the large scale gas and dust structure to individual protostellar envelopes. These observations from ground-based arrays are complemented by the development of the Balloon Experimental Twin Telescope for Infra-red Interferometry (BETTII). This pioneering instrument performs Michelson interferometry along with Fourier Transform Spectroscopy, thereby providing sub-arcsecond angular resolution and spectroscopic capabilities at far-infrared wavelengths 30-100 microns. Using this capability, BETTII will study the dusty envelopes around protostars in clustered star forming regions. The instrument development is a component of the thesis with focus on the optics designing, evaluation and alignment for the completed and upcoming flights. We discuss how the optical system mitigates the challenges of phase control for such a balloon borne interferometer. Further, interferometric simulations of BETTII observations are carried out to investigate how well these observations can constrain the defining parameters of protostars.