IAU Symposia

IAUS 315: From interstellar clouds to star-forming galaxies: universal processes?

Start date/time

August 3, 2015

End date/time

August 7, 2015


United States


Pascale Jablonka

Event website


Coordinating Division

Division J Galaxies and Cosmology

Co-Chairs of SOC:

Pascale Jablonka (EPFL; Observatoire de Paris)
Floris Van der Tak (SRON & Uni Groningen)
Philippe André (CEA - AIM Paris-Saclay)


  1. The gas in galaxies
  2. Formation of structure in the interstellar medium
  3. Star formation on GMC scales
  4. Star formation at galactic scales 
  5. Evolution of star formation with time and environment


Scientific Rationale :


The availability of wide-field far-infrared and submillimeter surveys with, e.g., the Spitzer, Herschel, Planck, Wise, and Akari space observatories, coupled with the much improved capabilities of ground-based millimeter and submillimeter interferometers, have recently led to spectacular and decisive steps forward in our understanding of star formation modes from solar system scales (tens of AUs) to global (kpc) scales in galaxies. In particular, it appears that star formation in dense molecular gas is governed by essentially the same “laws” in nearby Galactic clouds and distant external galaxies. This raises the possibility of a unified picture of star formation in the Universe from small scales (clouds, filaments, protostellar cores and disks) to galaxy-wide scales. 

The goal of the proposed Symposium is to debate this possibility and to start building a coherent picture of how star formation is fuelled on a wide range of scales in galaxies and the Universe. The conference would bring together researchers working on star formation throughout the Universe from nearby clouds to local galaxies to the first star-forming galaxies at high redshift, both observers and theorists, who would debate the fundamental question whether the dominant mode of star formation is universal.

With the advent of powerful observational facilities such as ALMA and high-resolution, multi-scale numerical simulations, we believe the time is ripe for such a meeting bridging the gap between Galactic and extragalactic star formation. In 2015, ALMA will have entered full operations and the legacy of Herschel observations will have become fully clear. A wealth of exciting new results can undoubtedly be presented and discussed.

Key topics: 

1. The gas in galaxies

1a - Atomic and molecular phases
of the ISM
1b - Excitation of molecular gas in galaxies
1c - Molecules in galaxies as tracers of ISM properties and star formation rates 

2. Formation of structure in the interstellar medium
2a - Structure and evolution of interstellar clouds
2b - Formation and evolution of dense cores
2c - Formation and evolution of protostellar disks                         

3. Star formation on GMC scales
3a - Formation and early evolution of stellar clusters
3b - Comparison of low-mass and high-mass star formation
3c - Origin and universality of the IMF  

4. Star formation at galactic scales
4a - Nearby universe (dwarfs and massive systems, ellipticals, spirals)
4b- Co-evolution of AGNs 
4c- Star formation laws, rates, and thresholds in galaxies 

5. Evolution of star formation with time and environment 

5a - Main-sequence disks versus starburst galaxies 
5b – Comparison of low and high redshift star formation 
5c –  Galaxies in groups and clusters: cold versus hot accretion 

Concluding debate: How universal are star formation processes?


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