"Massive stars – with masses larger than 8Mo – are rare in the Galaxy. However, they dominate the energetics of galaxies, shaping their structure and impacting on their evolution. The formation of massive stars has recently become a hot topic in Astrophysics thanks to the advent of astronomical facilities operating at infrared (IR) wavelengths. These facilities have revealed that massive stars are formed in filamentary structures viewed as shadows against the bright IR Galactic background (Infrared-Dark Clouds or IRDCs). When observed at higher angular resolution with millimeter (mm) interferometers, these structures show dense condensations (clumps) that fragment into smaller cores (IRDC cores and Hot cores). Much progress has been done in the past 10 years to understand the physical processes involved in this empirical evolutionary sequence. However, several questions still remain unanswered. MIRA will observationally cover all stages of early massive star birth to establish the mechanisms that lead to the formation of massive stars. This research will continue the work started by the applicant with the Submillimeter Array interferometer (SMA, USA), and will make extensive use of the new international interferometric facility, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). The SMA, as a pioneer instrument in sub-mm astronomy, has served as a platform for the development of ALMA. At present, it is strategically important for Europe to have highly qualified astronomers with expertise in sub-mm interferometry, who can fully exploit the unprecedented capabilities of ALMA. MIRA will be carried out at the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which leads the European contribution to the construction of ALMA. This fellowship will allow the applicant not only to transfer the knowledge and expertise gained at the SMA in sub-millimeter interferometry, but to learn and practice several skills in the area of user support and data testing within the functional work of ALMA at ESO."
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