Dr. Janet Simpson

December 22, 2006

"The Interactions of Stars with the Interstellar Medium of Galaxies"


In collaboration with personnel at NASA Ames Research Center this project involves research on a number of topics: (1) the formation and evolution of young stars, the interaction of the radiation and mass outflows from these stars with the surrounding interstellar medium, and the accretion disks and natal cocoons surrounding the newly formed stars, which might be the site of planet formation, (2) the centers of galaxies, both those actively forming stars and those whose extreme radiation fields prevent the local formation of the cold clouds out of which stars are formed, and (3) the production and return of heavy elements to the interstellar medium in supernova explosions and mass loss from aged stars, and the results of such enrichment on the chemical evolution of galaxies.

The Principal Investigator, Dr. Simpson, is a Ph.D. astronomer involved in research at both near-infrared and far-infrared wavelengths concerning the formation of young stars, the evolution of both old and young stars, which brings about the return of chemically enriched material to the interstellar medium, the interstellar medium in which these objects are embedded, and manifestations of both starbursts and active galactic nuclei in galaxies. She will be assisted by Dr. Angela Cotera, also of SETI Institute, who is an expert on the massive stars and clusters of massive stars that are seen in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. While the end product of this study can and will be used in a wide variety of ways, SETI Institute envisions using this information to examine the processes of star formation, critical to understanding the likelihood of planet formation, and the evolution of the interstellar medium, including the formation of the complicated molecules that are essential to the formation of life.