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P.A. Scowen (Arizona State University), J.A. Morse (NASA-GSFC), M. Beasley (University of Colorado), T. Veach (Arizona State University), ORION Science Team
The ORION MIDEX mission is a 1.2m UV-visual observatory orbiting at L2 that will conduct the first-ever high spatial resolution survey of a statistically significant sample of visible star-forming environments in the Solar neighborhood in emission lines and continuum. This survey will be used to characterize the star and planet forming environments within 2.5 kpc of the Sun, infer global properties and star formation history in these regions, understand how the environment influences the process of star and planet formation, and develop a classification scheme for star forming regions incorporating the earlier results. Based on these findings we will then conduct a similar high spatial resolution survey of large portions of the Magellanic Clouds, applying the classification scheme from local star forming environments to analogous regions in nearby galaxies, extending the classification scheme to regions that do not have nearby analogs but are common in external galaxies. The results from the local survey will allow us to infer characteristics of low mass star forming environments in the Magellanic Clouds, study the spatial distribution of star forming environments and analyze stellar population photometry to trace star formation history. Finally we will image a representative sample of external galaxies using the same filters used to characterize nearby star formation regions. We will map the distribution of star forming region type as a function of galactic environment for galaxies out to ~5 Mpc to infer the distribution and history of low-mass star formation over galactic scales, characterize the stellar content and star formation history of galaxies, and relate these results to the current star forming environments in these galaxies. Ultimately we intend to use these diagnostics to extrapolate to star formation environments in the higher redshift Universe. We will also present details on technology development, project planning and operations for the proposed mission.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.