Tuesday, June 24, 2008 - 5:15pm
Alyssa Goodman (CfA):
"'Tasting' Models of Star Formation"
Abstract. Pictures of star forming regions are so colorful and complex that they hang in more astronomers' offices and planetaria than any other kind of astronomical image. Unfortunately, this complexity and "color" also makes them among the hardest regions in the Universe to model in straightforward ways. Modern theories of star formation on scales larger than a single star-forming core include physical processes that interact in ways that are effectively impossible to fully model analytically, and so rely primarily on simulations of magnetized, often self-gravitating, often non-isothermal, turbulent flows. Today, comparing results from the large observational surveys of star-forming regions with the complex simulations is often the only way to make sense of the survey data. In this talk, I will focus on an approach to such comparisons that relies on creating synthetic observations of simulations, and ,using new kinds of statistics, extracts important new constraints on fundamental properties of star-forming regions, such as what fraction of the material they contain is long-lasting and bound by self-gravity. We call the statistical tests we make "Taste Tests" when we liken the simulators to chefs, trying to replicate a "dish" they've experienced in the real world's restaurants, and they need some kind of test (tasting) to know if they got the recipe "right."