skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on June 1, 2023

Title: ALMA-IMF: I. Investigating the origin of stellar masses: Introduction to the Large Program and first results
Aims. Thanks to the high angular resolution, sensitivity, image fidelity, and frequency coverage of ALMA, we aim to improve our understanding of star formation. One of the breakthroughs expected from ALMA, which is the basis of our Cycle 5 ALMA-IMF Large Program, is the question of the origin of the initial mass function (IMF) of stars. Here we present the ALMA-IMF protocluster selection, first results, and scientific prospects. Methods. ALMA-IMF imaged a total noncontiguous area of ~53 pc 2 , covering extreme, nearby protoclusters of the Milky Way. We observed 15 massive (2.5 −33 × 10 3 M ⊙ ), nearby (2−5.5 kpc) protoclusters that were selected to span relevant early protocluster evolutionary stages. Our 1.3 and 3 mm observations provide continuum images that are homogeneously sensitive to point-like cores with masses of ~0.2 M ⊙ and ~0.6 M ⊙ , respectively, with a matched spatial resolution of ~2000 au across the sample at both wavelengths. Moreover, with the broad spectral coverage provided by ALMA, we detect lines that probe the ionized and molecular gas, as well as complex molecules. Taken together, these data probe the protocluster structure, kinematics, chemistry, and feedback over scales from clouds to filaments to cores. more » Results. We classify ALMA-IMF protoclusters as Young (six protoclusters), Intermediate (five protoclusters), or Evolved (four proto-clusters) based on the amount of dense gas in the cloud that has potentially been impacted by H  II region(s). The ALMA-IMF catalog contains ~700 cores that span a mass range of ~0.15 M ⊙ to ~250 M ⊙ at a typical size of ~2100 au. We show that this core sample has no significant distance bias and can be used to build core mass functions (CMFs) at similar physical scales. Significant gas motions, which we highlight here in the G353.41 region, are traced down to core scales and can be used to look for inflowing gas streamers and to quantify the impact of the possible associated core mass growth on the shape of the CMF with time. Our first analysis does not reveal any significant evolution of the matter concentration from clouds to cores (i.e., from 1 pc to 0.01 pc scales) or from the youngest to more evolved protoclusters, indicating that cloud dynamical evolution and stellar feedback have for the moment only had a slight effect on the structure of high-density gas in our sample. Furthermore, the first-look analysis of the line richness toward bright cores indicates that the survey encompasses several tens of hot cores, of which we highlight the most massive in the G351.77 cloud. Their homogeneous characterization can be used to constrain the emerging molecular complexity in protostars of high to intermediate masses. Conclusions. The ALMA-IMF Large Program is uniquely designed to transform our understanding of the IMF origin, taking the effects of cloud characteristics and evolution into account. It will provide the community with an unprecedented database with a high legacy value for protocluster clouds, filaments, cores, hot cores, outflows, inflows, and stellar clusters studies. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more » ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; « less
Award ID(s):
2008101 1816715
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10342425
Journal Name:
Astronomy & Astrophysics
Volume:
662
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
A8
ISSN:
0004-6361
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. ABSTRACT Young massive clusters (YMCs) are compact (≲1 pc), high-mass (>104 M⊙) stellar systems of significant scientific interest. Due to their rarity and rapid formation, we have very few examples of YMC progenitor gas clouds before star formation has begun. As a result, the initial conditions required for YMC formation are uncertain. We present high resolution (0.13 arcsec, ∼1000 au) ALMA observations and Mopra single-dish data, showing that Galactic Centre dust ridge ‘Cloud d’ (G0.412 + 0.052, mass = 7.6 × 104 M⊙, radius = 3.2 pc) has the potential to become an Arches-like YMC (104 M⊙, r ∼ 1 pc), but is not yet forming stars. This would mean it is the youngest known pre-star-forming massive cluster and therefore could be an ideal laboratory for studying the initial conditions of YMC formation. We find 96 sources in the dust continuum, with masses ≲3 M⊙ and radii of ∼103 au. The source masses and separations are more consistent with thermal rather than turbulent fragmentation. It is not possible to unambiguously determine the dynamical state of most of the sources, as the uncertainty on virial parameter estimates is large. We find evidence for large-scale (∼1 pc) converging gas flows, which could cause the cloud to grow rapidly, gaining 104 M⊙ within 105 yr. The highest density gas is found atmore »the convergent point of the large-scale flows. We expect this cloud to form many high-mass stars, but find no high-mass starless cores. If the sources represent the initial conditions for star formation, the resulting initial mass function will be bottom heavy.« less
  2. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT G0.253+0.016, aka ‘the Brick’, is one of the most massive (>105 M⊙) and dense (>104 cm−3) molecular clouds in the Milky Way’s Central Molecular Zone. Previous observations have detected tentative signs of active star formation, most notably a water maser that is associated with a dust continuum source. We present ALMA Band 6 observations with an angular resolution of 0.13 arcsec (1000 AU) towards this ‘maser core’ and report unambiguous evidence of active star formation within G0.253+0.016. We detect a population of eighteen continuum sources (median mass ∼2 M⊙), nine of which are driving bi-polar molecular outflows as seen via SiO (5–4) emission. At the location of the water maser, we find evidence for a protostellar binary/multiple with multidirectional outflow emission. Despite the high density of G0.253+0.016, we find no evidence for high-mass protostars in our ALMA field. The observed sources are instead consistent with a cluster of low-to-intermediate-mass protostars. However, the measured outflow properties are consistent with those expected for intermediate-to-high-mass star formation. We conclude that the sources are young and rapidly accreting, and may potentially form intermediate- and high-mass stars in the future. The masses and projected spatial distribution of the cores are generally consistent with thermal fragmentation, suggesting that themore »large-scale turbulence and strong magnetic field in the cloud do not dominate on these scales, and that star formation on the scale of individual protostars is similar to that in Galactic disc environments.« less
  3. Abstract We use hydrodynamical simulations of star-forming gas with stellar feedback and sink particles—proxies for young stellar objects (YSOs)—to produce and analyze synthetic 1.1 mm continuum observations at different distances (150–1000 pc) and ages (0.49–1.27 Myr). We characterize how the inferred core properties, including mass, size, and clustering with respect to diffuse natal gas structure, change with distance, cloud evolution, and the presence of YSOs. We find that atmospheric filtering and core segmentation treatments have distance-dependent impacts on the resulting core properties for d < 300 pc and 500 pc, respectively, which dominate over evolutionary differences. Concentrating on synthetic observations at further distances (650–1000 pc), we find a growing separation between the inferred sizes and masses of cores with and without YSOs in the simulations, which is not seen in recent observations of the Monoceros R2 (Mon R2) cloud at 860 pc. We find that the synthetic cores cluster in smaller groups, and that their mass densities are correlated with gas column density over a much narrower range, than those in the Mon R2 observations. Such differences limit the applicability of the evolutionary predictions we report here, but will motivate our future efforts to adapt our synthetic observation and analysismore »framework to next generation simulations, such as Star Formation in Gaseous Environments (STARFORGE). These predictions and systematic characterizations will help to guide the analysis of cores on the upcoming TolTEC Clouds to Cores Legacy Survey on the Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano.« less
  4. Context. The ionization feedback from H  II regions modifies the properties of high-mass starless clumps (HMSCs, of several hundred to a few thousand solar masses with a typical size of 0.1–1 pc), such as dust temperature and turbulence, on the clump scale. The question of whether the presence of H  II regions modifies the core-scale (~0.025 pc) fragmentation and star formation in HMSCs remains to be explored. Aims. We aim to investigate the difference of 0.025 pc-scale fragmentation between candidate HMSCs that are strongly impacted by H  II regions and less disturbed ones. We also search for evidence of mass shaping and induced star formation in the impacted candidate HMSCs. Methods. Using the ALMA 1.3 mm continuum, with a typical angular resolution of 1.3′′, we imaged eight candidate HMSCs, including four impacted by H  II regions and another four situated in the quiet environment. The less-impacted candidate HMSCs are selected on the basis of their similar mass and distance compared to the impacted ones to avoid any possible bias linked to these parameters. We carried out a comparison between the two types of candidate HMSCs. We used multi-wavelength data to analyze the interaction between H  II regions and the impactedmore »candidate HMSCs. Results. A total of 51 cores were detected in eight clumps, with three to nine cores for each clump. Within our limited sample, we did not find a clear difference in the ~0.025 pc-scale fragmentation between impacted and non-impacted candidate HMSCs, even though H  II regions seem to affect the spatial distribution of the fragmented cores. Both types of candidate HMSCs present a thermal fragmentation with two-level hierarchical features at the clump thermal Jeans length λ J,clump th and 0.3 λ J,clump th . The ALMA emission morphology of the impacted candidate HMSCs AGAL010.214-00.306 and AGAL018.931-00.029 sheds light on the capacities of H  II regions to shape gas and dust in their surroundings and possibly to trigger star formation at ~0.025 pc-scale in candidate HMSCs. Conclusions. The fragmentation at ~0.025 pc scale for both types of candidate HMSCs is likely to be thermal-dominant, meanwhile H  II regions probably have the capacity to assist in the formation of dense structures in the impacted candidate HMSCs. Future ALMA imaging surveys covering a large number of impacted candidate HMSCs with high turbulence levels are needed to confirm the trend of fragmentation indicated in this study.« less
  5. ABSTRACT The protocluster SPT2349−56 at $z = 4.3$ contains one of the most actively star-forming cores known, yet constraints on the total stellar mass of this system are highly uncertain. We have therefore carried out deep optical and infrared observations of this system, probing rest-frame ultraviolet to infrared wavelengths. Using the positions of the spectroscopically confirmed protocluster members, we identify counterparts and perform detailed source deblending, allowing us to fit spectral energy distributions in order to estimate stellar masses. We show that the galaxies in SPT2349−56 have stellar masses proportional to their high star formation rates, consistent with other protocluster galaxies and field submillimetre galaxies (SMGs) around redshift 4. The galaxies in SPT2349−56 have on average lower molecular gas-to-stellar mass fractions and depletion time-scales than field SMGs, although with considerable scatter. We construct the stellar-mass function for SPT2349−56 and compare it to the stellar-mass function of $z = 1$ galaxy clusters, finding consistent shapes between the two. We measure rest-frame galaxy ultraviolet half-light radii from our HST-F160W imaging, finding that on average the galaxies in our sample are similar in size to typical star-forming galaxies at these redshifts. However, the brightest HST-detected galaxy in our sample, found near the luminosity-weightedmore »centre of the protocluster core, remains unresolved at this wavelength. Hydrodynamical simulations predict that the core galaxies will quickly merge into a brightest cluster galaxy, thus our observations provide a direct view of the early formation mechanisms of this class of object.« less