Robert Benjamin


The Relation between Stars, Gas, and Star Formation in the Galactic Bar(s) and Disk


Galaxies are multicomponent systems, with the stars, gas, and star formation arranged in different, but related patterns. I review what is known and what is still unknown about the global structure of the Milky Way. I introduce a new technique to map the distribution of the stellar content of the Galaxy, and then compare the structure of the stellar disk and bar(s) to what is known about the spatial distribution of HI, CO and star formation. I demonstrate that while HI surveys have mapped the gas distribution to the far edges of the disk, surveys of molecular gas and HII regions have, until recently been limited to about a distance of about 9−10 kpc from the Sun. I will summarize some of the new discoveries in this area, and suggest future areas for investigation.