Earliest phases of star formation (EPoS)
Dust temperature distributions in isolated starless cores⋆
1 Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie
17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
2 University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
3 Universität zu Köln, Zülpicher Str. 77, 50937 Köln, Germany
Accepted: 18 May 2016
Context. Stars form by the gravitational collapse of cold and dense molecular cloud cores. Constraining the temperature and density structure of such cores is fundamental for understanding the initial conditions of star formation. We use Herschel observations of the thermal far-infrared (FIR) dust emission from nearby and isolated molecular cloud cores and combine them with ground-based submillimeter continuum data to derive observational constraints on their temperature and density structure.
Aims. The aim of this study is to verify the validity of a ray-tracing inversion technique developed to derive the dust temperature and density structure of nearby and isolated starless cores directly from the dust emission maps and to test if the resulting temperature and density profiles are consistent with physical models.
Methods. We have developed a ray-tracing inversion technique that can be used to derive the temperature and density structure of starless cores directly from the observed dust emission maps without the need to make assumptions about the physical conditions. Using this ray-tracing inversion technique, we derive the dust temperature and density structure of six isolated starless molecular cloud cores from dust emission maps in the wavelengths range 100 μm–1.2 mm. We then employ self-consistent radiative transfer modeling to the density profiles derived with the ray-tracing inversion method. In this model, the interstellar radiation field (ISRF) is the only heating source. The local strength of the ISRF as well as the total extinction provided by the outer envelope are treated as semi-free parameters which we scale within defined limits. The best-fit values of both parameters are derived by comparing the self-consistently calculated temperature profiles with those derived by the ray-tracing method.
Results. We confirm earlier results and show that all starless cores are significantly colder inside than outside, with central core temperatures in the range 7.5−11.9 K and envelope temperatures that are 2.4 − 9.6 K higher. The core temperatures show a strong negative correlation with peak column density which suggests that the thermal structure of the cores is dominated by external heating from the ISRF and shielding by dusty envelopes. We find that temperature profiles derived with the ray-tracing inversion method can be well-reproduced with self-consistent radiative transfer models if the cores have geometry that is not too complex and good data coverage with spatially resolved maps at five or more wavelengths in range between 100 μm and 1.2 mm. We also confirm results from earlier studies that found that the usually adopted canonical value of the total strength of the ISRF in the solar neighbourhood is incompatible with the most widely used dust opacity models for dense cores. However, with the data available for this study, we cannot uniquely resolve the degeneracy between dust opacity law and strength of the ISRF.
Key words: stars: formation / stars: low-mass / ISM: clouds / ISM: structure / dust, extinction / infrared: ISM
Final T maps (FITS format) are only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (18.104.22.168) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/cgi-bin/qcat?J/A+A/592/A61
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