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Towards Understanding the Launching of Protostellar Outflows: An Adaptive Optics Assisted Spectroscopic Invesitgation of Classical T Tauri Stars (TOUCHSTONES)
Start date: 01 Jun 2009, End date: 31 May 2011 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"The phenomenon of mass outflow from young stellar objects is arguably the most spectacular stage in the formation of a star. Much is known of the large-scale manifestations of outflows and of their interactions with their parent molecular clouds. However, in comparison, little is still understood of the precise mechanism by which outflows are launched and of the exact connection between outflow and accretion. The overall objective of this project is to provide observational constraints to jet launching models. The term ``jet" refers to the collimated, relatively fast outflow, seen close to the source. The outflow will become less collimated with distance and often has a wide molecular component. Few studies providing useful constraints exist, so this project will be the first investigation of a large number of objects. Thus for the first time the type of statistical study that is critically required will be completed. The Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Grenoble (LAOG) is the ideal place to carry out this work. Astronomers based at LAOG are leading the field in both observations and modelling of the jet launch region of young stars. It is proposed that spectro-images of a large sample of classical T Tauri star (CTTS) jets, will be obtained using integral field spectroscopy (IFS) and analysed using state of the art techniques. To maximise the angular resolution of the observations adaptive optics (AO) will be utilised. The proposed observations will allow the morphology, kinematics, excitation conditions and mass outflow/infall rates, of the jets to be probed. Comparisons will be made with sophisticated jet launching models currently being developed at LAOG. As the jet launch region of CTTSs is relatively easy to access (using state of the art observing techniques), CTTSs can be used as touchstones for the study of jet launching."
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