The life and death of dense molecular clumps in the large magellanic cloud

Jonathan P. Seale, Leslie W. Looney, Tony Wong, Jürgen Ott, Uli Klein, Jorge L. Pineda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report the results of a high spatial (parsec) resolution HCO+ (J = 1 → 0) and HCN (J = 1 → 0) emission survey toward the giant molecular clouds of the star formation regions N105, N113, N159, and N44 in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). The HCO+ and HCN observations at 89.2 and 88.6 GHz, respectively, were conducted in the compact configuration of the Australia Telescope Compact Array. The emission is imaged into individual clumps with masses between 102 and 104 M and radii of <1pc to 2 pc. Many of the clumps are coincident with indicators of current massive star formation, indicating that many of the clumps are associated with deeply embedded forming stars and star clusters. We find that massive young stellar object (YSO) bearing clumps tend to be larger (≳1 pc), more massive (M ≳ 103 M ), and have higher surface densities (1gcm-2), while clumps without signs of star formation are smaller (≲1 pc), less massive (M ≲ 103 M ), and have lower surface densities (0.1gcm-2). The dearth of massive (M > 103 M ) clumps not bearing massive YSOs suggests that the onset of star formation occurs rapidly once the clump has attained physical properties favorable to massive star formation. Using a large sample of LMC massive YSO mid-IR spectra, we estimate that 2/3 of the massive YSOs for which there are Spitzer mid-IR spectra are no longer located in molecular clumps; we estimate that these young stars/clusters have destroyed their natal clumps on a timescale of at least 3 × 10 5yr.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number42
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 20 2012


  • Magellanic Clouds
  • galaxies: individual (LMC)
  • infrared: stars
  • instrumentation: spectrographs
  • stars: evolution
  • stars: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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