The earliest phases of high-mass star formation, as seen in NGC 6334 by Herschel-HOBYS

Tigé, J.; Motte, F.; Russeil, D.; Zavagno, A.; Hennemann, M.; Schneider, N.; Hill, T.; Nguyen Luong, Q.; Di Francesco, J.; Bontemps, S.; Louvet, F.; Didelon, P.; Konyves, V.; André, P.; Leuleu, G.; Bardagi, J.; Anderson, L.- D.; Arzoumanian, D.; Benedettini, M.; Bernard, J.- P.; Elia, D.; Figueira, M.; Kirk, J.; Martin, P.- G.; Minier, V.; Molinari, S.; Nony, T.; Persi, P.; Pezzuto, S.; Polychroni, D.; Rayner, T.; Rivera-Ingraham, A.; Roussel, H.; Rygl, K.; Spinoglio, L. and White, G. J. (2017). The earliest phases of high-mass star formation, as seen in NGC 6334 by Herschel-HOBYS. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 602 pp. 1–83.



To constrain models of high-mass star formation, the Herschel/HOBYS KP aims at discovering massive dense cores (MDCs) able to host the high-mass analogs of low-mass prestellar cores, which have been searched for over the past decade. We here focus on NGC 6334, one of the best-studied HOBYS molecular cloud complexes. We used Herschel PACS and SPIRE 70-500 µm images of the NGC 6334 complex complemented with (sub)millimeter and mid-infrared data. We built a complete procedure to extract ~0.1 pc dense cores with the getsources software, which simultaneously measures their far-infrared to millimeter fluxes. We carefully estimated the temperatures and masses of these dense cores from their spectral energy distributions (SEDs). We also identified the densest pc-scale cloud structures of NGC 6334, one 2 px x 1 pc ridge and two 0.8 pc x 0.8 pc hubs, with volume-averaged densities of ~105 cm-3. A cross-correlation with high-mass star formation signposts suggests a mass threshold of 75 Mʘ for MDCs in NGC 6334. MDCs have temperatures of 9.5-40K, masses of 75-1000 Mʘ, and densities of 1 x 105- 7 x 107 cm-3. Their mid-infrared emission is used to separate 6 IR-bright and 10 IR-quiet protostellar MDCs while their 70 µm emission strength, with respect to fitted SEDs, helps identify 16 starless MDC candidates. The ability of the latter to host high-mass prestellar cores is investigated here and remains questionable. An increase in mass and density from the starless to the IR-quiet and IR-bright phases suggests that the protostars and MDCs simultaneously grow in mass. The statistical lifetimes of the high-mass prestellar and protostellar core phases, estimated to be 1-7 x 104 yr and at most 3 x 105 yr respectively, suggest a dynamical scenario of high-mass star formation. The present study provides good mass estimates for a statistically significant sample, covering the earliest phases of high-mass star formation. High-mass prestellar cores may not exist in NGC 6334, favoring a scenario presented here, which simultaneously forms clouds and high-mass protostars.

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