Lee Mundy's Research

Lee Mundy

I study the formation of stars and planets in our Galaxy. My focus is on the early stages: from initial formation to classical T Tauri stars, zero to around 10 million years of age. The goals of my research are (1) to understand how individual and multiple star systems form and evolve, (2) to clarify the planet forming capability of young circumstellar disks, and (3) to seek examples of planet formation in disks around young stars and ultimately to infer properties of those planets.
I utilize ALMA, VLA, Green Bank Telescope, other radio facilities, and archival data from space-based IR instruments to study the gas, dust, and stellar components of young and forming systems. The observations are complemented by computational modeling of dust and molecular line emission.

ADS Listing for past 5 years

Embedded YSO's and Circumstellar Disks with CARMA
CARMA's high resolution and sensitivity provide unique probes of the gas and dust distribution in the environments of young stars. With the current capability of 0.3" resolution at 1.3mm wavelength and the future resolution of 0.15", CARMA can map the nearest systems with 20-40 AU resolution to study the material radial distribution, kinematics, temperature structure, and chemistry on scales relevant to disk and planet formation. In addition to giving the best looks to date at the physical and dynamical structure of the inner infall envelopes and disks, these images may reveal inner holes, asymmetrical structures, or chemical hot spots -- yielding insights into the planet formation process.

Spitzer Space Telescope Legacy Projects: c2d and the Gould Belt
I was a co-I on the Spitzer Cores-to-Disks Legacy project and am currently a co-I on the Spitzer Gould Belt Legacy Project. These projects have the common goal of surveying the young stellar content of the nearby (<500 pc) molecular cloud population. The two projects are producing catalogs from tens of molecular clouds and over 100 small cloud cores, and a large number of papers about the star formation in local clouds. The data are a gold-mine for statistical studies and follow-up work on young stellar objects.

Science Preparation for ALMA
The Atacama Large Millimeter Array is being built and will be a spectacular instrument with first science observation in 2010 and full-array science in 2014. ALMA will enable unprecedented studies of star formation, circumstellar disks, and planet-forming disks, but it will also be an extremely competitive international instrument. Now is the time to become engaged in numerical modeling and simulation work to interpret the data and engage in unique science.

Future Infrared Interferometric Space Missions
I work with GSFC developing specifications for three possible future NASA missions, SPIRIT ( P.I. David Leisawitz) , SPECS (P.I. David Leisawitz), and Fourier Kelvin (P.I. William Danchi). SPIRIT is a two element mid-infrared interferometer with baselines up to 30 meters and would be a medium-sized NASA mission. SPECS is a three-element tethered interferometer with up to 1 km baseline and would be a large mission. Fourier Kelvin is a near infrared interferometer with a goal of getting spectra of hot Jupiters. All of these missions are at the concept development stage and are competing to get future NASA funding.

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