Massive star formation, from the Milky Way to distant galaxies



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Studying massive star formation is hard, both observationally and theoretically. Many basic questions concerning the formation and early evolution of massive stars remain unclear. Based on a series of spectral lines and mapping surveys on a large sample of massive star-forming cores, we have been able to study the dynamics and physical properties of massive star-forming regions. The HCN 3-2 survey has revealed a large fraction of line asymmetry that indicates the global existence of infall in massive cores. Using the spectra and maps of multiple HCN and CS transitions, as well as of their isotopes, we have started to model the massive star-forming cores with a 1D Monte Carlo simulation. The surveys of dense gas tracers in Galactic cores revealed a linear correlation between the star formation rate, as indicated by the infrared luminosity, and the amount of the dense gas, as traced by the line luminosity of dense gas tracer like HCN 1-0. The linear LIR-L’HCN1−0 correlation was found to extend over 8 orders of magnitude, from distant starburst and normal galaxies to Galactic massive cores, with a lower cutoff in luminosity. It suggests that star formation may follow a simple relationship when the appropriate tracers are used, and we may understand distant star formation in terms of the known properties of local star-forming regions. To explain this linear correlation, we propose the existence of a basic unit for the clustered star formation in galaxies, with the basic units similar to the massive dense cores studied in the Galaxy.