My main research interest is feedback from massive stars, and the key question I am trying to answer is: how exactly do massive stars influence their environment?

We know that massive stars have an enourmous impact on their sourroundings throughout their lifetime via jets/outflows, powerful winds, strong ionising radiation, and ultimately by exploding as supernovae. We can quantify these various feedback mechanisms by simulating one or more at a time, but observationally, the quantification of massive star formation feedback is very challenging.

To observationally quantify feedback from massive stars I use data from so-called integral field spectrographs like MUSE or KMOS on the Very Large Telescope in Chile . With this data, I identify and classify the feedback-driving massive stars while simultaneously linking them to the properties and kinematics of the feedback-driven gas.

I am also a strong advocate for early-career mothers in STEM fields, as well as researchers with unusual paths to astronomy and academia. My wishes for the future: free child care at all major conferences, travel allowances for mothers traveling to conferences with their small (dependant) kids, as well as child care supprt for PhD students and postdocs.

Latest publications

A. F. McLeod et al.

We present MUSE Integral Field Unit (IFU) observations of five individual HII regions in two giant (>100 pc in radius) star-forming complexes in the low-metallicity ( Z ~ 0.33 Z) nearby (D ~ 2 Mpc) dwarf spiral galaxy NGC 300. We combine the IFU data with high spatial resolution HST photometry to demonstrate the extraction of stellar spectra and the classification of individual stars from ground-based data at the distance of 2 Mpc. For the two star-forming complexes, in which no O-type stars had previously been identified, we find a total of 13 newly identified O-type stars in the mass range 15-50 M, as well as 4 Wolf-Rayet stars. We use the derived massive stellar content to analyze the impact of stellar feedback on the HII regions. As already found for HII regions in the Magellanic Clouds, the dynamics of the analyzed NGC 300 HII regions are dominated by a combination of the pressure of the ionized gas and stellar winds. By comparing the derived ionized gas mass loading factors to the total gas mass loading factor across the NGC 300 disk, we find that the latter is an order of magnitude higher, either indicating very early evolutionary stages for these HII regions, or being a direct result of the multi-phase nature of feedback-driven bubbles. Moreover, we analyze the relation between the star formation rate and the pressure of the ionized gas as derived from small (<100 pc) scales, as both quantities are systematically overestimated when derived on galactic scales. With the wealth of ongoing and upcoming IFU instruments and programs, this study serves as a pathfinder for the systematic investigation of resolved stellar feedback in nearby galaxies, and it delivers the necessary analysis tools to enable massive stellar content and feedback studies sampling an unprecedented range of HII region properties across entire galaxies in the nearby Universe.

M. Reiter et al.

Abstract: We present new MUSE/VLT observations of a small globule in the Carina H II region that hosts the HH 900 jet+outflow system. Data were obtained with the GALACSI ground-layer adaptive optics system in wide-field mode, providing spatially resolved maps of diagnostic emission lines. These allow us to measure the variation of the physical properties in the globule and jet+outflow system. We find high temperatures (Te ≈ 104 K), modest extinction (AV ≈ 2.5 mag), and modest electron densities (ne ≈ 200 cm-3) in the ionized gas. Higher excitation lines trace the ionized outflow; both the excitation and ionization in the outflow increase with distance from the opaque globule. In contrast, lower excitation lines that are collisionally de-excited at densities ≳104 cm-3 trace the highly collimated protostellar jet. Assuming the globule is an isothermal sphere confined by the pressure of the ionization front, we compute a Bonnor-Ebert mass of ~3.7 M. This is two orders of magnitude higher than previous mass estimates, calling into question whether small globules like the Tadpole contribute to the bottom of the initial mass function. The derived globule properties are consistent with a cloud that has been and/or will be compressed by the ionization front on its surface. At the estimated globule photoevaporation rate of ~5 × 10-7 M yr-1, the globule will be completely ablated in ~7 Myr. Stars that form in globules like the Tadpole will emerge into the H II later and may help resolve some of the temporal tension between disc survival and enrichment.

SIGNALS: I. Survey description

Published in MNARS

L. Rousseau-Nepton et al.

Abstract: SIGNALS, the Star formation, Ionized Gas, and Nebular Abundances Legacy Survey, is a large observing programme designed to investigate massive star formation and H II regions in a sample of local extended galaxies. The programme will use the imaging Fourier transform spectrograph SITELLE at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. Over 355 h (54.7 nights) have been allocated beginning in fall 2018 for eight consecutive semesters. Once completed, SIGNALS will provide a statistically reliable laboratory to investigate massive star formation, including over 50 000 resolved H II regions: the largest, most complete, and homogeneous data base of spectroscopically and spatially resolved extragalactic H II regions ever assembled. For each field observed, three datacubes covering the spectral bands of the filters SN1 (363-386 nm), SN2 (482-513 nm), and SN3 (647-685 nm) are gathered. The spectral resolution selected for each spectral band is 1000, 1000, and 5000, respectively. As defined, the project sample will facilitate the study of small-scale nebular physics and many other phenomena linked to star formation at a mean spatial resolution of ~20 pc. This survey also has considerable legacy value for additional topics, including planetary nebulae, diffuse ionized gas, and supernova remnants. The purpose of this paper is to present a general outlook of the survey, notably the observing strategy, galaxy sample, and science requirements.

P. D. Klaassen et al.

Abstract: Forming high-mass stars have a significant effect on their natal environment. Their feedback pathways, including winds, outflows, and ionising radiation, shape the evolution of their surroundings which impacts the formation of the next generation of stars. They create or reveal dense pillars of gas and dust towards the edges of the cavities they clear. They are modelled in feedback simulations, and the sizes and shapes of the pillars produced are consistent with those observed. However, these models predict measurably different kinematics which provides testable discriminants. Here we present the first ALMA Compact Array (ACA) survey of 13 pillars in Carina, observed in 12CO, 13CO and C18O J=2-1, and the 230 GHz continuum. The pillars in this survey were chosen to cover a wide range in properties relating to the amount and direction of incident radiation, proximity to nearby irradiating clusters and cloud rims, and whether they are detached from the cloud. With these data, we are able to discriminate between models. We generally find pillar velocity dispersions of < 1 km s-1 and that the outer few layers of molecular emission in these pillars show no significant offsets from each other, suggesting little bulk internal motions within the pillars. There are instances where the pillars are offset in velocity from their parental cloud rim, and some with no offset, hinting at a stochastic development of these motions.

P. Zeidler et al.

Abstract: We mapped the Galactic young massive star cluster Westerlund 2 (Wd2) with the integral field spectrograph MUSE (spatial resolution: 0.2arcsec/px, spectral resolution: Δλ = 1.25A, wavelength range 4600-9350A) mounted on the VLT, as part of an on-going study to measure the stellar and gas kinematics of the cluster region. In this paper we present the fully reduced dataset and introduce our new Python package "MUSEpack", which we developed to measure stellar radial velocities with an absolute precision of 1-2km/s without the necessity of a spectral template library. This novel method uses the two-dimensional spectra and an atomic transition line library to create templates around strong absorption lines for each individual star. The code runs fully automatically on multi-core machines, which makes it possible to efficiently determine stellar radial velocities of a large number of stars with the necessary precision to measure the velocity dispersion of young star clusters. MUSEpack also provides an enhanced method for removing telluric lines in crowded fields without sky exposures and a Python wrapper for ESO's data reduction pipeline. We observed Wd2 with a total of 11 short and 5 long exposures to cover the bright nebular emission and OB stars, as well as the fainter pre-main sequence stars down to ~1M . The survey covers an area of ~11arcmin² (15.8pc²). In total, we extracted 1,725 stellar spectra with a mean S/N>5 per pixel. A typical radial velocity (RV) uncertainty of 4.78km/s, 2.92km/s, and 1.1km/s is reached for stars with a mean S/N>10, S/N>20, S/N>50 per pixel, respectively. Depending on the number of spectral lines used to measure the RVs, it is possible to reach RV accuracies of 0.9km/s, 1.3km/s, and 2.2km/s with ≥5 , 3-4, and 1-2 spectral lines, respectively. The combined statistical uncertainty on the radial velocity measurements is 1.10km/s.

J. M. D. Kruijssen et al.

Abstract (see article for citations): The physics of star formation and the deposition of mass, momentum and energy into the interstellar medium by massive stars (‘feedback’) are the main uncertainties in modern cosmological simulations of galaxy formation and evolution. These processes determine the properties of galaxies but are poorly understood on the scale of individual giant molecular clouds (less than 100 parsecs), which are resolved in modern galaxy formation simulations. The key question is why the timescale for depleting molecular gas through star formation in galaxies (about 2 billion years) exceeds the cloud dynamical timescale by two orders of magnitude. Either most of a cloud’s mass is converted into stars over many dynamical times or only a small fraction turns into stars before the cloud is dispersed on a dynamical timescale. Here we report high-angular-resolution observations of the nearby flocculent spiral galaxy NGC 300. We find that the molecular gas and high-mass star formation on the scale of giant molecular clouds are spatially decorrelated, in contrast to their tight correlation on galactic scales. We demonstrate that this decorrelation implies rapid evolutionary cycling between clouds, star formation and feedback. We apply a statistical method to quantify the evolutionary timeline and find that star formation is regulated by efficient stellar feedback, which drives cloud dispersal on short timescales (around 1.5 million years). The rapid feedback arises from radiation and stellar winds, before supernova explosions can occur. This feedback limits cloud lifetimes to about one dynamical timescale (about 10 million years), with integrated star formation efficiencies of only 2 to 3 per cent. Our findings reveal that galaxies consist of building blocks undergoing vigorous, feedback-driven life cycles that vary with the galactic environment and collectively define how galaxies form stars.

Anna F. McLeod et al.

We recently reported the discovery of a candidate jet-driving microquasar (S10) in the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 300. However, in the absence of kinematic information, we could not reliably determine the jet power or the dynamical age of the jet cavity. Here, we present optical MUSE integral field unit (IFU) observations of S10, which reveal a bipolar line-emitting jet structure surrounding a continuum-emitting central source. The optical jet lobes of S10 have a total extent of ∼ 40 pc and a shock velocity of ∼ 150 km s-1. Together with the jet kinematics, we exploit the MUSE coverage of the Balmer Hβ line to estimate the density of the surrounding matter and therefore compute the jet power to be Pjet ≈ 6.3 × 1038 erg s-1. An optical analysis of a microquasar jet bubble and a consequent robust derivation of the jet power have been possible only in a handful of similar sources. This study therefore adds valuable insight into microquasar jets, and demonstrates the power of optical integral field spectroscopy in identifying and analysing these objects.

Anna F. McLeod et al.

We use MUSE data from the Very Large Telescope in Chile to analyse the effect of feedback from massive stars in the low-metallicity environment of the Large Magellanic Cloud.
For 11 HII regions in total, we identify and classify the feedback-driving stars and analyse their feedback effect in terms of energy and momentum input into the surrounding matter by linking them the feedback-affected gas in the HII regions.
We analyse the role of different stellar feedback mechanisms for each region by measuring the direct radiation pressure, the pressure of the ionised gas, and the pressure of the shock-heated winds. We find the expansion of the HII regiosn is mainly diven by stellar winds and ionised gas, while the pressure imparted by the stellar radiation is up to three orders of magnitude lower than the other pressure terms. We relate the total pressure to the star formation rate and find that stellar feedback has a negative effect on star formation, and sets an upper limit to the rate at which stars are formes as a function of increasing pressure.