EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 419, Number 1, May III 2004
Page(s) 203 - 213
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20034318

A&A 419, 203-213 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20034318

Constraints in the circumstellar density distribution of massive Young Stellar Objects

C. Alvarez1, 2, 3, M. Hoare1 and P. Lucas4

1  Physics and Astronomy Department, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
2  Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, Postbus 800, 9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands
3  Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
4  Dept. of Physical Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield AL10 9AB, UK

(Received 12 September 2003 / Accepted 23 January 2004)

We use a Monte Carlo code to generate synthetic near-IR reflection nebulae that resemble those (normally associated with a bipolar outflow cavity) seen towards massive young stellar objects (YSOs). The 2D axi-symmetric calculations use an analytic expression for a flattened infalling rotating envelope with a bipolar cavity representing an outflow. We are interested in which aspects of the circumstellar density distribution can be constrained by observations of these reflection nebulae. We therefore keep the line of sight optical depth constant in the model grid, as this is often constrained independently by observations. It is found that envelopes with density distributions corresponding to mass infall rates of ~ 10-4  ${M_{\odot}~{\rm yr}^{-1}}$ (for an envelope radius of 4700 AU) seen at an inclination angle of $\sim $ ${45}^{\circ}$ approximately reproduce the morphology and extension of the sub-arcsecond nebulae observed in massive YSOs. Based on the flux ratio between the approaching and receding lobe of the nebula, we can constrain the system inclination angle. The cavity opening angle is well constrained from the nebula opening angle. Our simulations indicate that to constrain the outflow cavity shape and the degree of flattening in the envelope, near-IR imaging with higher resolution and dynamic range than speckle imaging in 4 m-class telescopes is needed. The radiative transfer code is also used to simulate the near-IR sub-arcsecond nebula seen in  Mon R2 IRS3 . We find indications of a shallower opacity law in this massive YSO than in the interstellar medium, or possibly a sharp drop in the envelope density distribution at distances of ~1000 AU from the illuminating source.

Key words: scattering -- stars: formation -- techniques: high angular resolution -- radiative transfer -- stars: winds, outflow

Offprint request: C. Alvarez, alvarez@mpia-hd.mpg.de

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