The Formation of Stellar Systems from Interstellar Molecular Clouds

Science  25 May 1984:
Vol. 224, Issue 4651, pp. 823-830
DOI: 10.1126/science.224.4651.823


Star formation, a crucial link in the chain of events that led from the early expansion of the universe to the formation of the solar system, continues to play a major role in the evolution of many galaxies. Observational and theoretical studies of regions of ongoing star formation provide insight into the physical conditions and events that must have attended the formation of the solar system. Such investigations also elucidate the role played by star formation in the evolutionary cycle which appears to dominate the chemical processing of interstellar material by successive generations of stars in spiral galaxies like our own. New astronomical facilities planned for development during the 1980's could lead to significant advances in our understanding of the star formation process. Efforts to identify and examine both the elusive protostellar collapse phase of star formation and planetary systems around nearby stars will be especially significant.