Filamentary star formation: Observing the evolution toward flattened envelopes

Katherine Lee, Leslie Looney, Doug Johnstone, John Tobin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Filamentary structures are ubiquitous from large-scale molecular clouds (a few parsecs) to small-scale circumstellar envelopes around Class 0 sources (∼1000 AU to ∼0.1 pc). In particular, recent observations with the Herschel Space Observatory emphasize the importance of large-scale filaments (a few parsecs) and star formation. The small-scale flattened envelopes around Class 0 sources are reminiscent of the large-scale filaments. We propose an observationally derived scenario for filamentary star formation that describes the evolution of filaments as part of the process for formation of cores and circumstellar envelopes. If such a scenario is correct, small-scale filamentary structures (0.1 pc in length) with higher densities embedded in starless cores should exist, although to date almost all the interferometers have failed to observe such structures. We perform synthetic observations of filaments at the prestellar stage by modeling the known Class 0 flattened envelope in L1157 using both the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA) and the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA). We show that with reasonable estimates for the column density through the flattened envelope, the CARMA D array at 3 mm wavelengths is not able to detect such filamentary structure, so previous studies would not have detected them. However, the substructures may be detected with the CARMA D+E array at 3 mm and the CARMA E array at 1 mm as a result of more appropriate resolution and sensitivity. ALMA is also capable of detecting the substructures and showing the structures in detail compared to the CARMA results with its unprecedented sensitivity. Such detection will confirm the new proposed paradigm of non-spherical star formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number171
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume761
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 10 2012

Keywords

  • ISM: clouds
  • dust, extinction
  • radio continuum: ISM
  • stars: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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