The interstellar medium (ISM) is the material in a galaxy that is in between stars. Stars are born from gas in the ISM and return their processed elements back to the ISM at the end of their lives through supernovae or planetary nebulae. The study of the ISM therefore allows us to trace the life cycle of stars and the impact of stars on their host galaxies. Our group at WVU led by Dr. Anderson focuses on the distribution of massive stars in our Milky Way Galaxy and their impact on the ISM. Although such massive stars are rare, their luminosities are extreme and they thus have an outsized influence on the properties of the Milky Way, and its potential for future star formation. We primarily use radio facilities such as the Green Bank Telescope, but far-infrared observatories such as SOFIA also provide useful data on spectral lines not accessible from ground-based observatories.
Researchers in this area include: