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Interstellar medium:
Star and planet formation

  • Interstellar medium observations.

Studying the role of magnetic field in star and planet formation

This group actively investigates the early stages of the star and planet formation process, with special emphasis on the role of magnetic fields at different scales.

Unveiling the physical processes of stars and planetary systems formation

The formation of stars is one of the most important events that shape the physical, chemical, and dynamical properties of their host galaxy. Stars form in the densest parts of molecular clouds (interstellar clouds of molecules and dust). Due to the high extinction of optical light by dust grains mixed with the gas, the birth of stars must be studied at infrared and longer wavelengths (in the millimetre and centimetre domain) that can penetrate clouds.

The mechanism that regulates the evolution of molecular clouds and the star formation process is still under debate. There are two main proposed scenarios to explain the formation of stars:

  • The quasi-static star formation scenario, where magnetic fields and turbulence control the dynamics and evolution of molecular clouds through a slow contraction of gas and dust.

The dynamic star formation scenario, where turbulence is the main agent controlling both the evolution of molecular clouds and the formation of stars through a fast contraction of gas and dust. It is within this context that the study of the properties of magnetic fields and their influence on the dynamics of molecular clouds is a key issue in the star formation research field.

Interstellar medium.


The research activity of the group “Interstellar Medium: star and planet formation” is focused in the early stages of the star and planet formation process, with special emphasis on the role of magnetic fields at different scales.

In particular, we aim at investigating:

  • The role of magnetic fields in the formation of stars and planets, from cloud to disk scales;
  • Stellar winds from massive stars: bubbles, magnetised jets and onset of outflow collimation;
  • The physical and chemical properties of molecular clouds, their filamentary nature, and the core fragmentation process they undergo to form stars and stars clusters;
  • The study of the magnetic field (from dust polarisation observations) combined with the gas kinematic information at core scales (<0.1 pc). The goal is to analyse both gravity and gas dynamics and be able to compare them with the magnetic field;
  • The evolution of protoplanetary disks: looking for signatures of planet formation.

Senior institute members involved

Meet the senior researchers who participate in this research line.

  • Josep Miquel Girart

  • Josep María Torrelles

  • Álvaro Sánchez-Monge