Scientific Rationale


Angular and spectral resolutions are fundamental limitations for our understanding of the properties of galaxies in the nearby and distant Universe. A new generation of instruments and powerful observatories, as well as planned future facilities, is pushing the boundaries of what was previously possible over the entire electromagnetic spectrum. These include space observatories (Euclid, JWST, HST, NuSTAR), ground-based facilities that span large-aperture optics (VLT(MUSE etc), LBT, E-ELT, GMT, TMT, LSST, CCAT, LMT) and interferometers (LOFAR, ALMA, NOEMA, JVLA, VLTi, LBTi, MeerKAT/ASKAP/SKA). A workshop to discuss the scientific results and upcoming opportunities afforded by these new capabilities is timely. What scientific and technical synergies are possible in the era of high-resolution studies of galaxies near and far?

The advent of state-of-the-art facilities with high angular resolution and high spectral resolution capabilities, coupled with high sensitivity, such as ALMA, allows the interstellar medium (ISM) and star formation (SF) properties of galaxies at intermediate redshift to be probed in unprecedented detail along with their local Universe counterparts. To give just one example, in the millimetre regime, a detailed picture of the molecular gas properties in galaxies at redshifts ~1-2 is just starting to emerge, while in the nearby Universe molecular gas properties are already being studied at the scale of individual Giant Molecular Clouds (GMCs).

In order to explore our theme of resolving star formation and ISM processes with ALMA and contemporary instruments, the topics we plan to cover include:

  • Physical properties and evolution of GMCs across different environments
  • Physical conditions and chemistry in star-forming regions
  • Spiral galaxies, the properties of spiral structure, spiral arm dynamics
  • Galactic nuclei, in-fall and outflows, properties of black hole environs
  • The molecular gas phase-star formation connection / star formation laws
  • Dependence of SFR, ISM and metallicity on galaxy type and galactic environment
  • High-z galaxies and galaxy evolution
  • Galaxy dynamics, dark matter content and distribution


Aim of the Workshop

The aim of this workshop is to bring together astronomers whose interests are furthering our understanding of star formation and ISM processes at high spatial and spectral resolution. The workshop topic is intended to encompass both nearby and more distant galaxies. Emphasis on synergies between current and future facilities capable of carrying out such observations, particularly synergies with ALMA, is encouraged. Participation from both the extragalactic and galactic communities is also encouraged. The workshop location and timing, a few weeks prior to the ALMA Cycle 3 proposal deadline, will provide a rich scientific environment with an emphasis on current and future ALMA capabilities. In addition to the invited and contributed talks we will also allow ample discussion time and poster sessions, as well as an optional ALMA proposal collaborative workshop that aims to bring together ideas and collaborations for ALMA Cycle 3 proposals.