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NTHU Institute of Astronomy
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Lai, Shih-Ping (Deputy Director)

Shih-Ping Lai


Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, U.S.A. (2001)

Office: +886-3-574-2531

Lab: +886-3-571-5131 ext 33301

Fax: +886-3-572-3052

Email: slai @


Honors Experience

  • Professor (2015-present)
  • Associate Professor (2010-2015)
  • Assistant Professor of The Physics Department and The Institute of Astronomy, National Tsing Hua University (2006/4-2010/07)
  • Research Associate, University of Maryland, USA (2003-2006)
  • Research Associate, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech, USA (2001-2003)


Research Interests

Although we know that stars are formed from molecular clouds mainly due to the gravitational collapse, the detailed processes are still largely unclear. For example, there is a huge debate on whether magnetic fields or turbulence motions in molecular clouds will dominate and control the star formation processes. Like all physics questions, the initial conditions may determine the final status of a physical system. To advance our understanding of star formation, it is critical to study the early stage of star formation, in particular the physical conditions and environment of protostars.  The focus of my research is on studying the earliest stage of star formation. My researches can be divided into two categories: (1) Mapping magnetic fields in star-forming cores and (2) Studying the jets and chemical age of youngest Protostars.

  1. Mapping Magnetic Fields in Star-forming Cores

In order to examine the contemporary star formation theories, it is crucial to measure the strengths and the morphology of magnetic fields in star-forming regions. I have done many successful observations with Berkeley-Illinois-Maryland Array and Submillimeter Array (SMA). I currently participate in a SMA Legacy Project for mapping magnetic field morphology of large number of star-forming cores and also a IRAM key project for mapping magnetic field strengths with Zeeman effect.  

  1. Studying the jets and chemical age of youngest Protostars

Observing the just-formed protostars and their associate molecular cores is essential for understanding the initial conditions of star formation. In particular, outflows are the most spectacular phenomenon in the star-forming process and they are responsible for removing the angular moment of the core to facilitate the formation of stars. I have successfully obtained data from Arizona Radio Observatory, Submillimeter Array, and Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to study the youngest protosters and their outflows and evaluate their evolutionary sequence through abundance of deuterated species.


Selected Publications

  • M. Takami, H.-W. Chen, J.L. Karr, H.-T. Lee, S.-P. Lai and Y.-C. Minh, “Emission Mechanism of "Green Fuzzies" in High-mass Star-forming Regions”, The Astrophysical Journal, 748,  8 (2012)
  • F.O. Alves, J.M. Girart, S.-P. Lai, R. Rao and Q.  Zhang, “The Magnetic Field in the NGC 2024 FIR 5 Dense Core”, The Astrophysical Journal, 726, 63 (2011)
  • H.-B. Li, M. Houde, S.-P. Lai and T.K. Sridharan, “Tracing Turbulent Ambipolar Diffusion in Molecular Clouds”, The Astrophysical Journal, 718, 905 (2011)
  • C.-L. Hung, S.-P. Lai and C.-H. Yan, “The Evolution of Density Structure of Starless and Protostellar Cores”,  The Astrophysical Journal, 710, 207 (2010)
  • more....
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