Journal Article

Molecular line profiles from contracting dense cores

Steven W. Stahler and Jeffrey J. Yen

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 407, issue 4, pages 2434-2442
Published in print October 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Molecular line profiles from contracting dense cores

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We recently proposed that molecular cloud dense cores undergo a prolonged period of quasi-static contraction prior to true collapse. This theory could explain the observation that many starless cores exhibit, through their spectral line profiles, signs of inward motion. We now use our model, together with a publicly available radiative transfer code, to determine the emission from three commonly used species – N2H+, CS and HCN. A representative dense core of 3 M that has been contracting for 1 Myr has line profiles that qualitatively match the observed ones. In particular, optically thick lines have about the right degree of blue–red asymmetry, the empirical hallmark of contraction. The J= 2 → 1 rotational transition of CS only attains the correct type of profile if the species is centrally depleted, as has been suggested by previous studies. These results support the idea that a slow, but accelerating, contraction leads to protostellar collapse. In the future, the kind of analysis presented here can be used to assign ages to individual starless cores.

Keywords: line: profiles; stars: formation; ISM: clouds; ISM: kinematics and dynamics; ISM: molecules

Journal Article.  6686 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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