INAF – Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Largo E. Fermi 5, 50125 Firenze, Italy e-mail: [sepulcre;cesa;walmsley]@arcetri.astro.it
Accepted: 21 April 2010
Aims. We have searched for star formation activity (mainly infall and outflow signatures) in a sample of high-mass molecular clumps (M > 100 ) in different evolutionary stages and with a wide range of surface densities, with the aim of looking for evolutionary trends and testing observationally recent theoretical models which predict the need for a minimum surface density to form high-mass stars.
Methods. Our sample has been selected from single-dish 1.2 mm continuum surveys and is composed of 48 massive molecular clumps, of which 29 are IR-loud and 19 are IR-dark. Each of these has been mapped in the HCO+(1–0), HCN(1–0) and C18O(2–1) transitions with the IRAM-30 m telescope on Pico Veleta (Spain). We derive basic parameters (mass, momentum, kinetic energy) for the clumps and their associated outflows and examine the HCO+(1–0) line profiles for evidence of infall or expansion.
Results. Molecular outflows have been detected in 75% of our targets from the presence of high-velocity wings in the HCO+(1–0) spectra. These are equally frequent and massive (between ~1 and ~100 ) in IR-dark and IR-loud clumps, implying similar levels of star formation activity in both kinds of objects. A surface density threshold at Σ = 0.3 g cm-2 has been found above which the outflow detection rate increases significantly and the outflows are on average more massive. The infall detection rate in our sample is low, but significantly higher in the IR-dark sub-sample. Our clump mass estimates using the mm dust emission and C18O(2–1) are sensitive to the temperature, but assuming a value of 15 K for the IR-dark sub-sample, we find evidence that C18O is depleted by a factor ~4.5. The HCO+(1–0) to HCN(1–0) integrated intensity ratios measured reveal a greater dispersion about the mean value in the IR-dark sub-sample than in the IR-loud by a factor of about 5. We find that a considerable number of IR-dark sources are self-absorbed in HCN(1–0) suggesting that radiative transport effects in the ground state transitions have an important influence on the integrated intensity ratio.
Conclusions. Our results indicate that, in terms of outflow frequency and energetics, both IR-dark and IR-loud molecular clumps present equivalent signatures of star formation activity, and that the formation of high-mass stars requires sufficiently high clump surface densities. The higher infall detection rate measured for the IR-dark subsample suggests that these objects could be associated with the onset of star formation.
Key words: stars: formation / ISM: clouds / ISM: jets and outflows / ISM: molecules
Based on observations carried out with the IRAM 30-m telescope at Pico Veleta (Granada, Spain). IRAM is supported by INSU/CNRS (France), MPG (Germany), and IGN (Spain).
Appendices A and B are only available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2010