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Toward a Complete Near-Infrared Spectroscopic and Imaging Survey of Giant Molecular Clouds

E. Lada (U. Fl.)
R. Elston (U. Fl.)
C. Roman (U. Fl.)
C. Lada (CfA)
J. Najita (NOAO)
D. Dahari (U. Fl.)
J. Alves (ESO)
A. Muensch (CfA)
J. Williams (U. Fl.)

We propose to use the FLAMINGOS multi-object spectrometer and imager to obtain complete inventories of the star and planet forming activity in the most active, nearby Giant Molecular Clouds. We will image all young stellar objects within these clouds down to the hydrogen burning limit and classify their types through their near-infrared spectra. The goals of this survey are to determine the number and spatial extent of young stars in the clouds and to measure their ages and masses. The resulting catalogs will be of wide interest and of great use in determining the stellar initial mass function and addressing fundamental questions such as the variation of star formation efficiency and rate from cloud to cloud, the formation of clusters, and sequential star formation.