I study the initial conditions of the star formation process using the light emitted by molecules within the gas clouds that serve as the birthplace of new stars. Far-infrared and submillimeter telescopes such as the Herschel Space Observatory have recently revealed that most stars form inside elongated filaments that create a larger web-like structure within molecular clouds. Analyzing the temperature, density and kinematics of the gas within filaments allows us to pinpoint where new stars may soon form and provides us with a better understanding of the processes involved in forming stars, solar systems, and planets.

Cygnux X
Fig. 1 - Dust continuum emission observed by the Herschel Space Observatory from the Cygnus X star-forming region. Blue-white areas highlight portions of the cloud being heated by newly-formed massive stars. Credit: Herschel OB Young Stars Survey

My PhD dissertation, titled "Hierarchical Ammonia Structures in Galactic Molecular Clouds," can be viewed here