EDP Sciences
Free Access
Volume 416, Number 1, March II 2004
Page(s) 191 - 212
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20031704
Published online 26 February 2004

A&A 416, 191-212 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20031704

On the internal structure of starless cores

I. Physical conditions and the distribution of CO, CS, N $\mathsf{_2}$H $\mathsf{^+}$, and NH $\mathsf{_3}$ in L1498 and L1517B
M. Tafalla1, P. C. Myers2, P. Caselli3 and C. M. Walmsley3

1  Observatorio Astronómico Nacional, Alfonso XII 3, 28014 Madrid, Spain
2  Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
3  Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Largo E. Fermi 5, 50125 Firenze, Italy

(Received 16 June 2003 / Accepted 24 November 2003)

We have characterized the physical structure and chemical composition of two close-to-round starless cores in Taurus-Auriga, L1498 and L1517B. Our analysis is based on high angular resolution observations in at least two transitions of NH 3, N 2H +, CS, C 34S, C 18O, and C 17O, together with maps of the 1.2 mm continuum. For both cores, we derive radial profiles of constant temperature and constant turbulence, together with density distributions close to those of non-singular isothermal spheres. Using these physical conditions and a Monte Carlo radiative transfer model, we derive abundance profiles for all species and model the strong chemical differentiation of the core interiors. According to our models, the NH 3 abundance increases toward the core centers by a factor of several $(\approx$5) while N 2H + has a constant abundance over most of the cores. In contrast, both C 18O and CS (and isotopomers) are strongly depleted in the core interiors, most likely due to their freeze out onto grains at densities of a few 10 4 cm -3. Concerning the kinematics of the dense gas, we find (in addition to constant turbulence) a pattern of internal motions at the level of 0.1 km s -1. These motions seem correlated with asymmetries in the pattern of molecular depletion, and we interpret them as residuals of core contraction. Their distribution and size suggest that core formation occurs in a rather irregular manner and with a time scale of a Myr. A comparison of our derived core properties with those predicted by supersonic turbulence models of core formation shows that our Taurus cores are much more quiescent than representative predictions from these models. In two appendices at the end of the paper we present a simple and accurate approximation to the density profile of an isothermal (Bonnor-Ebert) sphere, and a Monte Carlo-calibrated method to derive gas kinetic temperatures using NH 3 data.

Key words: ISM: abundances -- ISM: clouds -- ISM: molecules -- stars: formation -- ISM: individual objects: L1498, L1517B

Offprint request: M. Tafalla, m.tafalla@oan.es

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© ESO 2004

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