EDP Sciences
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Volume 440, Number 1, September II 2005
Page(s) 151 - 161
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20041836

A&A 440, 151-161 (2005)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20041836

Star formation in Perseus

Clusters, filaments and the conditions for star formation
J. Hatchell1, 2, J. S. Richer3, G. A. Fuller4, C. J. Qualtrough3, E. F. Ladd5 and C. J. Chandler6

1  Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
    e-mail: hatchell@astro.ex.ac.uk
2  School of Physics, University of Exeter, Stocker Road, Exeter EX4 4QL, UK
3  Cavendish Laboratory, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0HE, UK
4  Department of Physics, UMIST, PO Box 88, Manchester M60 1QD, UK
5  Department of Physics, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837, USA
6  National Radio Astronomy Observatory, PO Box O, Socorro, NM 87801, USA

(Received 12 August 2004 / Accepted 4 May 2005 )

We present a complete survey of current star formation in the Perseus molecular cloud, made at 850 and 450  with SCUBA at the JCMT. Covering 3 deg2, this submillimetre continuum survey for protostellar activity is second in size only to that of $\rho$ Ophiuchus (Johnstone et al. 2004, ApJ, 611, L45). Complete above 0.4 $M_{\odot}$ ($5\sigma$ detection in a 14'' beam), we detect a total of 91 protostars and prestellar cores. Of these, 80% lie in clusters, representative of star formation across the Galaxy. Two of the groups of cores are associated with the young stellar clusters IC 348 and NGC 1333, and are consistent with a steady or reduced star formation rate in the last 0.5 Myr, but not an increasing one. In Perseus, 40-60% of cores are in small clusters (<50 $M_{\odot}$) and isolated objects, much more than the 10% suggested from infrared studies. Complementing the dust continuum, we present a C18O map of the whole cloud at 1' resolution. The gas and dust show filamentary structure of the dense gas on large and small scales, with the high column density filaments breaking up into clusters of cores. The filament mass per unit length is 5-11 $M_{\odot}$ per 0.1 pc. Given these filament masses, there is no requirement for substantial large scale flows along or onto the filaments in order to gather sufficient material for star formation. We find that the probability of finding a submillimetre core is a strongly increasing function of column density, as measured by C18O integrated intensity, ${P}(\hbox{core}) \propto I\,^{3.0}$. This power law relation holds down to low column density, suggesting that there is no $A_{\rm v}$ threshold for star formation in Perseus, unless all the low-$A_{\rm v}$ submm cores can be demonstrated to be older protostars which have begun to lose their natal molecular cloud.

Key words: stars: formation -- submillimeter -- dust, extinction -- ISM: molecules -- ISM: clouds -- ISM: structure

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