Star formation around RCW 120, the perfect bubble *
Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille (UMR 6110 CNRS & Université de Provence), 38 rue F. Joliot-Curie, 13388 Marseille Cedex 13, France e-mail: Lise.Deharveng@oamp.fr
2 Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
3 European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarschild Strasse, 85748 Garching bei München, Germany
Accepted: 7 January 2009
Context. This study deals with the star formation triggered by H ii regions.
Aims. We wish to take advantage of the very simple morphology of RCW 120 – a perfect bubble – to understand the mechanisms triggering star formation around an H ii region and to establish what kind of stars are formed there.
Methods. We present 870 μm observations of RCW 120, obtained with the APEX-LABOCA camera. These show the distribution of cold dust, and thus of neutral material. We use Spitzer-MIPS observations at 24 μm and 70 μm to detect the young stellar objects present in this region and to estimate their evolutionary stages.
Results. A layer of dense neutral material surrounds the entire H ii region, having been swept up during the region's expansion. This layer has a mass greater than and is fragmented, with massive fragments elongated along the ionization front (IF). We measured the 24 μm flux of 138 sources. Of these, 39 are Class I or flat-spectrum young stellar objects (YSOs) observed in the direction of the collected layer. We show that several triggering mechanisms are acting simultaneously in the swept-up shell, where they form a second generation of stars. No massive YSOs are detected. However, a massive, compact 870 μm core lies adjacent to the IF. A 70 μm source with no 24 μm counterpart is detected at the same position. This source is a likely candidate for a Class 0 YSO. Also at 24 μm, we detect a chain of about ten regularly spaced Class I or flat spectrum sources, parallel to the IF, in the direction of the most massive fragment. We suggest that the formation of these YSOs is the result of Jeans gravitational instabilities in the collected layer. Finally, the 870 μm emission, the 24 μm emission, and the Hα emission show the existence of an extended and partially ionized photodissociation region around RCW 120. This demonstrates the long-distance influence of the H ii region upon its surrounding medium.
Key words: stars: formation / stars: early-type / ISM: H ii regions / ISM: individual objects: RCW 120
© ESO, 2009