Interstellar Medium Projects
Monday, November 03 2014 - 10:31 pm, PST
Here we propose the "Reflight of the Stratospheric TeraHertz Observatory: STO-2". STO-2 will address a key problem in modern astrophysics, understanding the Life Cycle of the Interstellar Medium (ISM). STO-2 will survey approximately ¼ of the Southern Galactic plane in the dominant interstellar cooling line [CII] (158 µm) and the important star formation tracer [NII] (205 µm). With ~1 arcminute angular resolution, STO-2 will spatially resolve atomic, ionic and molecular clouds out to 10 kpc. Taking advantage of its enhanced, extended lifetime cryogenic receivers, the STO-2 survey will be conducted at unparalleled sensitivity levels. STO-2 will uniquely probe the pivotal formative and disruptive stages in the life cycle of interstellar clouds and the relationship between global star formation rates and the properties of the ISM. Combined with previous HI and CO surveys, STO-2 will create 3-dimensional maps of the structure, dynamics, turbulence, energy balance, and pressure of the Milky Way's ISM, as well as the star formation rate. Once we gain an understanding of the relationship between ISM properties and star formation in the Milky Way, we can better interpret observations of nearby galaxies and the distant universe.