How to identify the youngest protostars
School of Physics & Astronomy, Cardiff University, 5 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3YB, Wales, UK e-mail: D.Stamatellos@astro.cf.ac.uk
Accepted: 25 April 2005
We study the transition from a prestellar core to a Class 0 protostar, using SPH to simulate the dynamical evolution, and a Monte Carlo radiative transfer code to generate the SED and isophotal maps. For a prestellar core illuminated by the standard interstellar radiation field, the luminosity is low and the SED peaks at ~. Once a protostar has formed, the luminosity rises (due to a growing contribution from accretion onto the protostar) and the peak of the SED shifts to shorter wavelengths (). However, by the end of the Class 0 phase, the accretion rate is falling, the luminosity has decreased, and the peak of the SED shifts back towards longer wavelengths (). In our simulations, the density of material around the protostar remains sufficiently high well into the Class 0 phase that the protostar only becomes visible in the NIR if it is displaced from the centre dynamically. Raw submm/mm maps of Class 0 protostars tend to be much more centrally condensed than those of prestellar cores. However, when convolved with a typical telescope beam, the difference in central concentration is less marked, although the Class 0 protostars appear more circular. Our results suggest that, if a core is deemed to be prestellar on the basis of having no associated IRAS source, no cm radio emission, and no outflow, but it has a circular appearance and an SED which peaks at wavelengths below ~, it may well contain a very young Class 0 protostar.
Key words: stars: formation / ISM: clouds / dust, extinction / methods: numerical / radiative transfer / hydrodynamics
© ESO, 2005