Simon Coudé’s thesis project is to study the dynamics of interstellar matter within stellar nurseries. Although interstellar dust represents only a small fraction of the total mass in star-forming regions, it plays an essential role in the physics and the chemistry of pre-stellar environments. With the help of submillimetre astronomy, he seeks to characterize this cold interstellar dust and thus better understand the conditions leading to the birth of stars and their planets.
By combining spectroscopic and polarimetric data taken at the James Clerk Maxwell telescope in Hawaii, Simon studies the importance of magnetic fields, relative to turbulence, in the fragmentation of giant molecular clouds. Characterizing the interplay between these two mechanisms, and their role in the gravitational collapse of pre-stellar cores, is key to understanding the measured star formation rates in our galaxy.
Previously, he also studied the effect of molecular line contamination on submillimetre observations taken at the James Clerk Maxwell telescope of the Orion nebula. If the contribution of these molecular lines is not taken into account when attempting to derive the physical properties of interstellar dust, then we risk strongly underestimating its efficiency to radiate its energy in the far infrared.
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