Massive stars, due to their short lifetime and high energy output, drive the evolution of galaxies across cosmic time. Hence, they substantially contribute to shaping the present-day Universe. The proposed new Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) will unravel the “habitats of massive stars across cosmic time”. “Habitats” are the gaseous environments within which massive stars are born and which they interact with via their feedback. Over the anticipated 12-year lifetime of this new CRC initiative, we aim to connect the physical processes that govern the habitats of massive stars across the full range of environments hosting massive stars – from sub-parsec to mega-parsec scales and from the Milky Way to the high-redshift Universe, where massive stars leave their cosmological fingerprint by driving cosmic reionisation.
We have identified two major gaps in our current understanding, which this CRC will close: the “spatial scale gap”, which provides the missing link between the small (sub-parsec) scale studies and Galactic scale studies of high-mass star habitats; and the “environment gap”, extrapolating the physics of star formation, which can be examined in detail in the well-studied star formation sites in the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds, to the extreme environments prevailing at high redshift. These gaps are naturally connected as the most extreme environments are rare and distant and hence suffer from coarse resolution when observed from Earth. Both gaps are difficult to overcome due to the interconnected nature of the physical processes acting on all scales and hence they are the subject of intense research in the international astronomical community. Bridging these gaps calls for a large-scale collaborative effort, as enabled by this CRC.
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1st funding period: 10/2023 – 06/2027