Journal Article

A large-scale CO survey of the Rosette Molecular Cloud: assessing the effects of O stars on surrounding molecular gas

W. R. F. Dent, G. J. Hovey, P. E. Dewdney, T. A. Burgess, A. G. Willis, J. F. Lightfoot, T. Jenness, J. Leech, H. E. Matthews, M. Heyer and C. J. Poulton

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 395, issue 4, pages 1805-1821
Published in print June 2009 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online May 2009 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
A large-scale CO survey of the Rosette Molecular Cloud: assessing the effects of O stars on surrounding molecular gas

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We present a new large-scale survey of the J= 3–2 12CO emission covering 4.8 deg2 around the Rosette Nebula. The results reveal the complex dynamics of the molecular gas in this region. We identify about 2000 compact gas clumps having a mass distribution given by dN/dMM−1.8, with no dependence of the power-law index on distance from the central O stars. A detailed study of a number of the clumps in the inner region shows that most exhibit velocity gradients in the range 1–3 km s−1 pc−1, generally directed away from the exciting nebula. The magnitude of the velocity gradient decreases with distance from the central O stars, and we compare the apparent clump acceleration with a photoionized gas acceleration model. For most clumps outside the central nebula, the model predicts lifetimes of a few 105 yr. In one of the most extended of these clumps, however, a near-constant velocity gradient can be measured over 1.7 pc, which is difficult to explain with radiatively driven models of clump acceleration.

As well as the individual accelerated clumps, an unresolved limb-brightened rim lies at the interface between the central nebular cavity and the Rosette Molecular Cloud. Extending over 4 pc along the edge of the nebula, this region is thought to be at an earlier phase of disruption than the accelerating compact globules.

Blueshifted gas clumps around the nebula are in all cases associated with dark absorbing optical globules, indicating that this material lies in front of the nebula and has been accelerated towards us. Redshifted gas shows little evidence of associated line-of-sight dark clouds, indicating that the dominant bulk molecular gas motion throughout the region is expansion away from the O stars. In addition, we find evidence that many of the clumps lie in a molecular ring, having an expansion velocity of 30 km s−1 and radius 11 pc. The dynamical time-scale derived for this structure (∼106 yr) is similar to the age of the nebula as a whole (2 × 106 yr).

The J= 3–2/1–0 12CO line ratio in the clumps decreases with radial distance from the exciting O stars, from 1.6 at ∼8 pc distance to 0.8 at 20 pc. This can be explained by a gradient in the surface temperature of the clumps with distance, and we compare the results with a simple model of surface heating by the central luminous stars.

We identify seven high-velocity molecular flows in the region, with a close correspondence between these flows and embedded young clusters or known young luminous stars. These flows are sufficiently energetic to drive gas turbulence within each cluster, but fall short of the turbulent energy of the Rosette giant molecular cloud by two orders of magnitude.

We find 14 clear examples of association between an embedded young star (as seen by Spitzer at 24 μm) and a CO clump in the molecular cloud facing the nebular. The CO morphology indicates that these are photoevaporating circumstellar envelopes. CO clumps without evidence of embedded stars tend to have lower gas velocity gradients. It is suggested that the presence of the young star may extend the lifespan of the externally photoevaporating envelope.

Keywords: stars: formation; ISM: globules; ISM: individual: NGC 2244

Journal Article.  13117 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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