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Proceedings Paper

Star formation with large optical/infrared telescopes: recent results and future prospects
Author(s): Mark J. McCaughrean
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Paper Abstract

The current generation of large optical/IR telescopes will make a great impact on the study of the origin an devolution of stellar and planetary systems. The considerable collecting area, excellent spatial resolution, and reduced thermal background of the new 8-10 meter class telescopes all combine to yield sensitivities which will enable us to detect and characterize young low-mass stars, brown dwarfs, and giant planets at kiloparsec distances, thus including many dense clusters embedded in giant molecular clouds, where most stars in the galaxy are born. In the nearby star- forming regions, the faint surface brightness sensitivity and high spatial resolution will allow us to probe the environment of young stars in scattered and intrinsic emission on scales from 0.1 parsec, the original size of the protostellar core, to 10AU, where young giant planets may be forming in a circumstellar disk. We review recent star formation results from large ground-based optical/IR telescopes, predominantly the VLT and Keck, which serve to illustrate outstanding questions and to preview important insights that should be yielded by the armada of 8-10 meter ground-based telescopes over the coming decade. We also look forward to the further leap in capability that will be delivered at the end of the decade by the NGST, a cryogenic space-based 8 meter telescope which will have extremely low backgrounds at optical to mid-IR wavelengths and be diffraction-limited over a wide field in the near-IR and longwards.

Paper Details

Date Published: 29 June 2000
PDF: 14 pages
Proc. SPIE 4005, Discoveries and Research Prospects from 8- to 10-Meter-Class Telescopes, (29 June 2000); doi: 10.1117/12.390143
Show Author Affiliations
Mark J. McCaughrean, Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam (Germany)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4005:
Discoveries and Research Prospects from 8- to 10-Meter-Class Telescopes
Jacqueline Bergeron, Editor(s)

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