Research Topic

The Role of Magnetic Fields in the Formation of Stars

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The subject of how stars and planets form is one of the most fundamental outstanding questions in astronomy. Many theories have been proposed to explain the various processes involved. One of the key unanswered aspects of this whole question is exactly what role magnetic fields play in the overall process. It ...

The subject of how stars and planets form is one of the most fundamental outstanding questions in astronomy. Many theories have been proposed to explain the various processes involved. One of the key unanswered aspects of this whole question is exactly what role magnetic fields play in the overall process. It has been known for many years that magnetic fields exist in the interstellar medium, although their role is hotly debated.

Some theories have magnetic fields as the key agents of evolution, whilst other theories ignore magnetic fields altogether, as being only a minor perturbation on an otherwise turbulent picture. However, the recent advent of new telescopes that are capable of measuring inter-stellar magnetic fields, with previously unheard-of sensitivity and resolution, such as ALMA, NOEMA, SMA, and new instruments on existing telescopes such as JCMT, Nobeyama and IRAM, has meant that it is now possible to revisit this question with fresh eyes, based on new data. In addition, the huge increase in power of High Performance Computers (HPCs) means that the current generation of theories can include more details of more aspects of astrophysics than ever before.

In this Research Topic we aim to revisit the question of the role of magnetic fields in the star formation process, and bring together the latest observations with the latest theories to see what progress can now be made in answering this question.


Keywords: Star formation, interstellar medium, magnetic fields


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