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Research at St Andrews

Ian Alexander Bonnell


Ian Alexander Bonnell
Postal address:
School of Physics & Astronomy
Physical Science Building
North Haugh
St Andrews
United Kingdom


Research overview

My research is focused on understanding how stars form in galaxies and how the young stars affect their natal environment. Star formation occurs in turbulent molecular clouds that are found in spiral arms of disc galaxies. The primary goal of this research is to  to develop a self-consistent model of star formation from the large-scale galactic dynamics (tens of kpcs) to sub-parsec scales of local star forming events, including feedback from the young stars back into the ISM. The link between the large-scale galaxy and the small-scale star formation through gravity and feedback is an essential element in developing a complete theory of star formation. 

I am using  numerical simulations to probe the gravitationally driven gas dynamics of flows in a Galactic context that can self-consistently form the dense molecular clouds in whcih star formation occurs. In collaboration woith my ERC grant team (ECOGAL), we are using both SPH and grid based simulations to answer the following questions: 

1. How is star formation initiated and why is star formation inefficient?

2. How do massive stars form and what determines the initial mass function?

3. What role does feedback play in stopping, or triggering star formation and how does it shape the ISM?

4. How do stars form in the Galactic centre and how does this relate to the growth of supermassive black holes?


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