We propose to the community a comprehensive UV/optical/NIR imaging survey of Galactic star formation regions to probe all aspects of the star formation process. The primary goal of such a study is to understand the evolution of circumstellar protoplanetary disks and other detailed aspects of star formation in a wide variety of different environments. This requires a comprehensive emission-line survey of nearby star-forming regions in the Milky Way, where a high spatial resolution telescope+camera will be capable of resolving circumstellar material and shock structures. In addition to resolving circumstellar disks themselves, such observations will study shocks in the jets and outflows from young stars, which are probes of accretion in the youngest protoplanetary disks still embedded in their surrounding molecular clouds. These data will allow the measurement of proper motions for a large sample of stars and jets/shocks in massive star-forming regions for the first time, opening a new window to study the dynamics of these environments. It will require better than 30 mas resolution and a stable PSF to conduct precision astrometry and photometry of stars and nebulae. Such data will allow production of precise color-color and color magnitude diagrams for millions of young stars to study their evolutionary states. One can also determine stellar rotation, multiplicity, and clustering statistics as functions of environment and location in the Galaxy. For the first time we can systematically map the detailed excitation structure of HII regions, stellar winds, supernova remnants, and supershells/superbubbles. This survey will provide the basic data required to understand star formation as a fundamental astrophysical process that controls the evolution of the baryonic contents of the Universe.
Scowen, P; Jansen, R; Beasley, M; and Calzetti, D, "Understanding Global Galactic Star Formation" (2010). Astronomy Department Faculty Publication Series. 951.