EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 410, Number 2, November I 2003
Page(s) 577 - 585
Section Formation, structure and evolution of stars
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20030878

A&A 410, 577-585 (2003)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20030878

ISOCAM and molecular observations of the edge of the Horsehead nebula

A. Abergel1, D. Teyssier2, 3, J. P. Bernard1, F. Boulanger1, A. Coulais4, D. Fosse2, E. Falgarone2, M. Gerin2, M. Perault2, J.-L. Puget1, L. Nordh5, G. Olofsson5, M. Huldtgren5, A. A. Kaas5, P. André6, S. Bontemps7, M. M. Casali8, C. J. Cesarsky9, E. Copet10, J. Davies11, T. Montmerle6, P. Persi12 and F. Sibille13

1  Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale, Université Paris-Sud, Bât. 121, 91405 Orsay, France
2  LERMA, École Normale Supérieure et Observatoire de Paris, 24 rue Lhomond, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France
3  SRON - Low Energy Astrophysics Division Landleven 12, 9747 AD Groningen, The Netherlands
4  LERMA, Observatoire de Paris, 61 Av. de l'Observatoire, 75014 Paris, France
5  Stockholm Observatory, 133 36 Saltsjöbaden, Sweden
6  Service d'Astrophysique, Centre d'Études de Saclay, 91191 Gif-Sur-Yvette Cedex, France
7  Observatoire de Bordeaux, BP 89, 33270 Floirac, France
8  Royal Observatory, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh, UK
9  ESO, Headquarters, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2, 85748 Garching, Germany
10  LESIA, Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, 5 place Jules Janssen, 92195 Meudon Cedex, France
11  Joint Astronomy Center, 660 N. A'Ohoku Place, University Park, Hilo, HI 96720, USA
12  Istituto Astrofisica Spaziale, Area di Ricerca Tor Vergata, via del Fosso del Cavaliere, 00133 Roma, Italy
13  Observatoire de Lyon, 69230 Saint Genis Laval, France

(Received 2 August 2002 / Accepted 28 May 2003)

We present ISOCAM observations (5-18 $\mu$m) of the Horsehead nebula, together with observations of the ( J=1-0) and ( J=2-1) transitions of 12CO, 13CO and C 18O taken at the IRAM 30-m telescope. The Horsehead nebula presents a typical photodissociation region illuminated by the O9.5 V system $\sigma$ Ori. The ISOCAM emission is due to very small particles transiently heated to high temperature each time they absorb a UV photon. A very sharp filament (width: ${\sim}10^{\prime\prime}$ or ${\sim}0.02$ pc) is detected by ISOCAM at the illuminated edge of the nebula. This filament is due to a combined effect of steep increase of the column density and extinction of incident radiation, on typical sizes below ${\sim}0.01$ pc. Both the three-dimensional shape and the local density of the illuminated interface are strongly constrained. The dense material forming the edge of the Horsehead nebula appears illuminated edge-on by $\sigma$ Ori, and the particles located beyond the border should not be affected by the incident radiation field. This structure may be due to dense filaments in the parental cloud which have shielded the material located in their shadow from the photo-dissociating radiations. The measurement of the penetration depth of the incident radiation from the infrared data ( ${\sim}0.01$ pc) gives a density of a few 104 cm -3 just behind the bright filament. This value is comparable to the estimate of the density beyond the edge and deduced from our molecular observations, and also to the density behind the ionization front calculated in the stationary case. The material behind the illuminated edge could also be non-homogeneous, with clump sizes significantly smaller than the observed penetration depth of ${\sim}0.01$ pc. In that case no upper limit on the average density just behind the illuminated edge can be given.

Key words: ISM: individual objects: Horsehead -- ISM: dust, extinction -- ISM: clouds -- infrared: ISM -- radio lines: ISM

Offprint request: A. Abergel, abergel@ias.fr

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