Journal Article

Cores in infrared dark clouds (IRDCs) seen in the Hi-GAL survey between <i>l</i>= 300° and 330°

L. A. Wilcock, D. Ward-Thompson, J. M. Kirk, D. Stamatellos, A. Whitworth, D. Elia, G. A. Fuller, A. DiGiorgio, M. J. Griffin, S. Molinari, P. Martin, J. C. Mottram, N. Peretto, M. Pestalozzi, E. Schisano, R. Plume, H. A. Smith and M. A. Thompson

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 422, issue 2, pages 1071-1082
Published in print May 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online April 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Cores in infrared dark clouds (IRDCs) seen in the Hi-GAL survey between l= 300° and 330°

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We have used data taken as part of the Herschel infrared Galactic Plane survey (Hi-GAL) to study 3171 infrared dark cloud (IRDC) candidates that were identified in the mid-IR (8 μm) by Spitzer (we refer to these as ‘Spitzer-dark’ regions). They all lie in the range l= 300–330° and |b|≤ 1°. Of these, only 1205 were seen in emission in the far-IR (250–500 μm) by Herschel (we call these ‘Herschel-bright’ clouds). It is predicted that a dense cloud will not only be seen in absorption in the mid-IR, but will also be seen in emission in the far-IR at the longest Herschel wavebands (250–500 μm). If a region is dark at all wavelengths throughout the mid-IR and far-IR, then it is most likely to be simply a region of lower background IR emission (a ‘hole in the sky’). Hence, it appears that previous surveys, based on Spitzer and other mid-IR data alone, may have overestimated the total IRDC population by a factor of ∼2. This has implications for estimates of the star formation rate in IRDCs in the Galaxy. We studied the 1205 Herschel-bright IRDCs at 250 μm and found that 972 of them had at least one clearly defined 250-μm peak, indicating that they contained one or more dense cores. Of these, 653 (67 per cent) contained an 8-μm point source somewhere within the cloud, 149 (15 per cent) contained a 24-μm point source but no 8-μm source and 170 (18 per cent) contained no 24- or 8-μm point sources. We use these statistics to make inferences about the lifetimes of the various evolutionary stages of IRDCs.

Keywords: stars: formation

Journal Article.  6410 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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