Astronomy Researchers Discover Star Formation Sites

December 10, 2010

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) has cited recent work by Tom Bania, professor of astronomy, and astronomy graduate student Loren Anderson as a “major scientific result” in its most recent quarterly report to the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NRAO is a federally funded research and development center of the NSF operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) for the purpose of radio astronomy. NRAO designs, builds, and operates high sensitivity radio telescopes for use by scientists around the world.

The work in question involves Bania's and Anderson's recent use of the NRAO's Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia to discover a large population of previously unknown star formation sites in the Milky Way galaxy. They announced the initial results of their GBT H II Region Discovery Survey (HRDS) at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting in May. The survey's findings were reported on in releases from the AAS, NASA, and NRAO and generated considerable interest in the astrophysical community.  News of the findings also was carried by a number of scientific and mainstream media outlets, including Fox News, Wired, Science News, ScienceDaily, and Astronomy Now.

The Galactic H II Regions were the subject of Anderson's dissertation, which he successfully defended in August 2009. Last fall, he started a two-year postdoctoral position at the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseilles in Marseilles, France; he currently is a candidate for an assistant professor position in the physics department at the University of West Virginia.

Details about the HRDS project can be found on the AUI website.

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