EDP Sciences
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Volume 418, Number 2, May I 2004
Page(s) 563 - 576
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20031631

A&A 418, 563-576 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20031631

The giant pillars of the Carina Nebula

J. M. Rathborne1, 2, 3, K. J. Brooks1, 4, M. G. Burton2, M. Cohen5 and S. Bontemps6

1  European Southern Observatory, Casilla 19001, Santiago 19, Chile
2  School of Physics, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia
3  Institute for Astrophysical Research, 725 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston University, Boston, USA
4  Departamento de Astronomia, Universidad de Chile, Casilla 36-D, Santiago, Chile
5  Radio Astronomy Laboratory, 601 Campbell Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
6  Observatoire de Bordeaux, BP 89, 33270 Floirac, France

(Received 12 February 2003 / Accepted 16 October 2003)

Results are presented from a multi-wavelength study of the giant pillars within the Carina Nebula. Using near-IR data from 2MASS, mid-IR data from MSX, 843 MHz radio continuum maps from the MOST and molecular line and continuum observations from the SEST, we investigate the nature of the pillars and search for evidence of ongoing star formation within them. Photodissociation regions (PDRs) exist across the whole nebula and trace the giant pillars, as well as many ridges, filaments and condensations ( $A_{\rm v} > 7$ mag). Morphological similarities between emission features at 21 $\mu$m and 843 MHz adjacent to the PDRs, suggests that the molecular material has been carved by the intense stellar winds and UV radiation from the nearby massive stars. In addition, star forming cores are found at the tips of several of the pillars. Using a stellar density distribution, several candidate embedded clusters are also found. One is clearly seen in the 2MASS images and is located within a dense core (G287.84-0.82). A search for massive young stellar objects and compact  ${\rm H\,{\scriptstyle {II}}}$ regions using mid-IR colour criteria, reveal twelve candidates across the complex. Grey-body fits to SEDs for four of these objects are suggestive of OB-stars. We find that massive star formation in the Carina Nebula is occurring across the whole complex and confirm it has been continuous over the past 3 Myrs.

Key words: ISM: structure -- ISM: lines and bands -- ISM: molecules -- ${\rm H\,{\scriptstyle {II}}}$ regions -- dust, extinction -- stars: formation

Offprint request: J. M. Rathborne, jmr@phys.unsw.edu.au

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