Letter of Intent to become an IAU Commission -- announcement
dear friends of the MSWG,
the Organizing Committee has submitted a Letter of Intent to the IAU to turn our Working Group into an IAU Commission. You find the LoI text at the end of this message. The final decission will be taken by the IAU Executive Committee in April 2015. If you are interested in the details, visit:
In the next days the IAU will open an electronic poll on the proposed Commissions as part of the whole decission process. The results of the poll will be taken into account by the IAU for the final decission. All IAU members can vote for up to three of the proposed Commissions.
The Massive Stars Working Group encourages all IAU members of the group to vote in the electronic poll before its deadline (foreseen November 30), to show our interest in becoming a Commission after 20 years of uninterrupted operation of the Working Group. The IAU will announce shortly the votation procedure.
The full proposal is due in January, 31, 2015 and will be based on the LoI. If you have comments or suggestions to improve the proposal, please send them to me or to any of the members of the MSWG Organizing Committe. You find the names and addresses in the Working Group web page
with best regards,
chair, on behalf of the Organizing Committee of the Massive Stars Working Group
Name of the Commission: Massive Stars Commission
Primary Division: Division G Stars and Stellar Physics
Parent Division 1: Division H Interstellar Matter and Local Universe
Parent Division 2: Division J Galaxies and Cosmology
First name: Gregor
Last name: Rauw
Institute: Institute d'Astrophysique
First name: Nicole
Last name: St.-Louis
Institute: Université de Montreal
First name: Jorick
Last name: Vink
Institute: Armagh Observatory
Country: United Kingdom
Commission based one existing Working Group: Division G WG Massive Stars
The massive stars community organized itself and created the Massive Stars Working Group (MSWG) in 1995, nearly 20 years ago. Since then, it has been in operation without interruption, being re-appointed after each General Assembly. The MSWG contains over 400 members, with more than 100 senior IAU members. These facts already indicate that their activities and interests go beyond the goals and limits of a Working Group.
The MSWG is very active in organizing, focussing and promoting massive star research. Every two months it publishes the Massive Stars Newsletter, which includes the latest accepted papers, PhD theses, upcoming meetings and workshops and job offers, as well as any information of interest for the community. Up to now, 142 Newsletters have been issued. For even faster information dissemination within the community, the MSWG maintains a 24-hours announcement service. New submissions in the last 24 hours are distributed to interested members upon subscription to this service.
One of the most important activities of the MSWG is the organization of regular meetings of broad interest to the whole massive star community, most of them IAU Symposia, with an approximate frequency of 4-5 years. In addition, numerous IAU Symposia directly related to massive stars have been organized in the intervening years. As recent examples, we may cite the IAUS 307 ("New windows on massive stars", Geneva, June 2013), IAUS 279 ("Death of Massive Stars: Supernovae and GRBs", Nikko, 2012) or IAUS 272 ("Active OB stars- structure, evolution, mass-loss and critical limits", Paris, 2010).
The activities of the MSWG are coordinated by the MSWG Organizing Committee (OC), elected by all members of the MSWG following the IAU rules and by-laws of the WG. The OC reports on the group activities to the IAU every three years at the General Assembly. All information concerning the MSWG (including by-laws, membership and Newsletter issues) can be found on the web page of the group
The MSWG started an internal discussion to become an IAU Commission some time ago. As a result, it was decided at the General Assembly in Beijing that the MSWG would apply to become a Commission once the corresponding call for Commissions Reform would have been issued by the IAU Executive Committee.
The MSWG activity fits smoothly into the expectations for new Commissions. In the announcements for Commissions Reform it is claimed that new "Commissions are thus expected to be more focussed, in areas where IAU members voluntarily choose to work usefully and effectively together to achieve specific goals, perform significant roles, or for some other particular purpose of interest to the community or to society". We are convinced that this is the case of our MSWG.
Massive star research is centred on the stars themselves, but it offers a large number of links to other areas of Astrophysics. Massive stars are very luminous and thus they can be studied individually at relatively large distances, even with the detail of high resolution spectroscopy, spectropolarimetry or interferometry. When the spatial resolution becomes insufficient, they are the key agents behind starbursts or giant HII regions.
Massive stars span a wide range of physical parameters (masses, temperatures, energies...) and a large diversity of physical states, strongly impacting on other fields such as star formation, stellar population synthesis, galactic chemical and dynamical evolution at different redshifts or the re-ionization of the Universe, for which they have been proposed to be an active agent. From their birth to their death, massive stars go through phases of luminous OB stars, Luminous Blue Variables and hypergiants, Red Supergiants, Wolf-Rayets, Supernovae, Gamma Ray Bursts, neutron stars and black holes. The physics of these stars is complex, and thus stellar evolution and atmosphere models provide strong links between observations and analyses of individual objects. In recent times, the roles of multiplicity and magnetic fields have been added to those of rotation and stellar winds, thanks to modern spectroscopic, large scale surveys, that allow us to homogeneously study large samples
of massive stars and set constraints on their initial conditions and evolution.
With the new instrumental facilities and the developments for the immediate future, like the 30-40m telescopes and their associated instrumentation, the role of massive stars as tools to understand the nearby and far Universe will only increase, as will their role as central objects at the crossroads of different astrophysical disciplines. Because of these broad topics, we feel that the proposed Commission should be an Inter-Division Commission, hosted by Division G, but affiliated to Divisions H and J.
Turning the IAU MSWG into a Commission will benefit the whole astronomical community. It will offer a stable environment for discussion of all areas in which massive stars are involved within the IAU. The recent developments in the field still require strong research efforts for at least a decade, and the new avenues that will be opened by new telescopes and instruments will become a reality at the end of that decade. This guarantees that massive stars will remain one of the main research focuses of the astronomical community for at least the next two decades.
An IAU Commission would promote the development of the field and provide a well-defined forum for discussion and results dissemination. As an IAU Commission we will also expand our present activities. Thus, for the next years following a possible Commission status we will concentrate on the following tasks:
(a) Maintain the Massive Stars Newsletter and the 24-hours service and promote its dissemination.
(b) Continue promoting international conferences and workshops. At least 3 IAU Symposia or similar level meetings should be held between 2015 and 2025.
(c) Increase our efforts to strengthen our links with other research communities and make our results easily accessible to them. To this aim we will promote the Massive Stars Newsletter among those communities, look for common meetings and develop web tools.
(d) Foster new ways of active participation in our community, particularly for young researchers, by regular consultation and web tools. We expect also a large number of "Associates" for which these ways of participating will be of first importance.
(e) We will reinforce public outreach by means of open web pages and public talks and seminars. To this aim we will seek links with and advices from the IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach and the National Outreach Contacts.
We think that our proposal will be beneficial for the massive star researchers, the IAU and the astronomical community as a whole.