Surveys of the Milky Way and Magellanic System in the λ21-cm line of atomic hydrogen
School of Maths & Physics, University of Tasmania
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Published online: 07 February 2012
In the next three years, surveys of the Northern and Southern skies using focal plane arrays on aperture synthesis radio telescopes will lead to a breakthrough in our knowledge of the warm and cool atomic phases of the interstellar medium and their relationship with the diffuse molecular gas. The sensitivity and resolution of these surveys will give an order of magnitude or more improvement over existing interstellar medium data. The GASKAP (South) and GAMES (North) projects together constitute a complete survey of the Milky Way plane and the Magellanic Clouds and Stream in both emission and absorption in the H I 21-cm line and the OH 18-cm lines. The overall goal of this project is to understand the mechanism of galaxy evolution, through a detailed tracing of the astrophysical processes that drive the cycle of star formation in very different environments. Comparison of 21-cm emission and absorption highlights the transition from the warm, diffuse medium to cool clouds. Tracing turbulence in the Magellanic Stream shows how extra-galactic gas makes the difficult passage through the halo to replenish the disk. Finally, high resolution images of OH masers trace outflows from evolved stars that enrich the medium with heavy elements. To understand how the Milky Way was assembled and how it has evolved since, the speed and efficiency of these processes must be measured, as functions of Galactic radius and height above the plane. Observations of similar processes in the Magellanic Clouds show how differently they might have worked in conditions typical of the early universe.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2012