seek to better understand the process of converting molecular gas into stars, and whether that process creates an environment that itself affects stellar mass assembly and planet formation.
To make that happen, I develop Spitzer Space Telescope archival surveys of star formation in the Milky Way. With these products, we can identify most of the still-forming stars by the IR-bright emission from their dusty circumstellar material. This is a great means to sift out these objects from the many field stars and background galaxies along the same lines of sight. We also link the Spitzer catalogs up to others, e.g. from the Gaia, WISE, and Herschel space missions, to maximize our understanding of the natures of these fascinating objects.
A lot of new observations are coming along in my program, too. To fill gaps in the Spitzer surveys, I lead targeted follow-up surveys using the FORCAST mid-IR camera on NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). I also lead the TolTEC Clouds to Cores Legacy Survey, a huge survey of nearby clouds in mm-wave continuum with the 50-m Large Millimeter Telescope. Lastly, most of us Spitzer-fans are eagerly looking ahead to the launch of JWST, NASA’s next great observatory in space. With JWST, we can hunt for YSOs in much more distant star-forming regions and thus much more extreme environments!