Cracking the code of Star Formation
Star formation configures our Universe. Understanding how Nature converts diffuse gas clouds into Hydrogen burning stars has far reaching implications, from the understanding of how galaxies form and evolve, down to the origin of planets and life. In this presentation I will start by discussing my work on the initial conditions to the process of star formation by focusing on accurate measurement of structure in molecular clouds, the sites of star formation. I will then put these results into context and present my current ideas on the origin of stellar clusters in galaxies. Through out my presentation I will present several preliminary results from multi-wavelength observational programs making use of ESO's Very Large Telescope and the latest ALMA millimeter array. I will end with an overview of my group's research plans over the next decade.
Prof. João Alves is a full professor at the University of Vienna and the current director of the Uni Sternwarte. Prof. Alves did his PhD at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the structure of molecular clouds and the initial conditions to star formation. He then moved to the European Southern Observatory (ESO) as a post-doctoral Fellow in Garching, Germany, became ESO staff in 2001 and was promoted to head of department in 2003. In 2006 he moved to Southern Spain to take on the directorship of the Max-Planck / CSIC German-Spanish Astronomical Center in Calar Alto. He is since 2010 full professor of Stellar Astrophysics at the University of Vienna.
Prof. Alves is the Astronomy & Astrophysics Letter Editor-in-Chief, the largest European journal on the topic. He is involved in the European Space Agency (ESA) mission Gaia (launch 2013) where is leading the visualization package. He is also the Austrian PI in the consortium that will build the first instrument (MICADO) for the ESO Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) over the next decade. Prof. Alves is a member of the finance committee of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and is involved in the European Research Council (ERC) evaluation procedure for Starting Grants since its foundation.
Prof. Alves research is focused on the origin of stars and planets. He has been developing a new and powerful technique to trace density in dark molecular clouds, a technique that is critical to the exploitation of the ALMA array and ESA's Herschel Infrared telescope.
He has written 100 refereed papers that collected more that 5500 citations. He has advised several PhD students and Master students and edited 3 books. He also has research interests on the origins of life in the Universe and is currently leading a project at the Sternwarte that searches for laser pulses from extraterrestrial origin. Prof.
Alves dedicates a fraction of its time to Public Outreach and has a long list of ESO Press Releases (http://www.joaoalves.org/public-outreach), and a very recent one that appeared on several European newspapers (http://derstandard.at/1350261619690/Vielbeobachteter-Orionnebel-hat-doch-noch-ein-Raetsel-parat).