skip to main content

Title: Characterizing the 3D Kinematics of Young Stars in the Radcliffe Wave

We present an analysis of the kinematics of the Radcliffe Wave, a 2.7 kpc long sinusoidal band of molecular clouds in the solar neighborhood recently detected via 3D dust mapping. With Gaia DR2 astrometry and spectroscopy, we analyze the 3D space velocities of ∼1500 young stars along the Radcliffe Wave in action-angle space, using the motion of the wave’s newly born stars as a proxy for its gas motion. We find that the vertical angle of young stars—corresponding to their orbital phase perpendicular to the Galactic plane—varies significantly as a function of position along the structure, in a pattern potentially consistent with a wavelike oscillation. This kind of oscillation is not seen in a control sample of older stars from Gaia occupying the same volume, disfavoring formation channels caused by long-lived physical processes. We use a “wavy midplane” model to try to account for the trend in vertical angles seen in young stars, and find that while the best-fit parameters for the wave’s spatial period and amplitude are qualitatively consistent with the existing morphology defined by 3D dust, there is no evidence for additional velocity structure. These results support more recent and/or transitory processes in the formation of the more » Radcliffe Wave, which would primarily affect the motion of the wave’s gaseous material. Comparisons of our results with new and upcoming simulations, in conjunction with new stellar radial velocity measurements in Gaia DR3, should allow us to further discriminate between various competing hypotheses.

« less
; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. 57
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Context. Molecular filaments and hubs have received special attention recently thanks to new studies showing their key role in star formation. While the (column) density and velocity structures of both filaments and hubs have been carefully studied, their magnetic field (B-field) properties have yet to be characterized. Consequently, the role of B-fields in the formation and evolution of hub-filament systems is not well constrained. Aims. We aim to understand the role of the B-field and its interplay with turbulence and gravity in the dynamical evolution of the NGC 6334 filament network that harbours cluster-forming hubs and high-mass star formation. Methods. We present new observations of the dust polarized emission at 850 μ m toward the 2 pc × 10 pc map of NGC 6334 at a spatial resolution of 0.09 pc obtained with the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) as part of the B-field In STar-forming Region Observations (BISTRO) survey. We study the distribution and dispersion of the polarized intensity ( PI ), the polarization fraction ( PF ), and the plane-of-the-sky B-field angle ( χ B_POS ) toward the whole region, along the 10 pc-long ridge and along the sub-filaments connected to the ridge and the hubs. We derivedmore »the power spectra of the intensity and χ B POS along the ridge crest and compared them with the results obtained from simulated filaments. Results. The observations span ~3 orders of magnitude in Stokes I and PI and ~2 orders of magnitude in PF (from ~0.2 to ~ 20%). A large scatter in PI and PF is observed for a given value of I . Our analyses show a complex B-field structure when observed over the whole region (~ 10 pc); however, at smaller scales (~1 pc), χ B POS varies coherently along the crests of the filament network. The observed power spectrum of χ B POS can be well represented with a power law function with a slope of − 1.33 ± 0.23, which is ~20% shallower than that of I . We find that this result is compatible with the properties of simulated filaments and may indicate the physical processes at play in the formation and evolution of star-forming filaments. Along the sub-filaments, χ B POS rotates frombeing mostly perpendicular or randomly oriented with respect to the crests to mostly parallel as the sub-filaments merge with the ridge and hubs. This variation of the B-field structure along the sub-filaments may be tracing local velocity flows of infalling matter in the ridge and hubs. Our analysis also suggests a variation in the energy balance along the crests of these sub-filaments, from magnetically critical or supercritical at their far ends to magnetically subcritical near the ridge and hubs. We also detect an increase in PF toward the high-column density ( N H 2 ≳ 10 23  cm −2 ) star cluster-forming hubs. These latter large PF values may be explained by the increase in grain alignment efficiency due to stellar radiation from the newborn stars, combined with an ordered B-field structure. Conclusions. These observational results reveal for the first time the characteristics of the small-scale (down to ~ 0.1 pc) B-field structure of a 10 pc-long hub-filament system. Our analyses show variations in the polarization properties along the sub-filaments that may be tracing the evolution of their physical properties during their interaction with the ridge and hubs. We also detect an impact of feedback from young high-mass stars on the local B-field structure and the polarization properties, which could put constraints on possible models for dust grain alignment and provide important hints as to the interplay between the star formation activity and interstellar B-fields.« less
  2. The Radcliffe wave is a ∼3 kpc long coherent gas structure containing most of the star-forming complexes near the Sun. In this Letter we aim to find a Galactic context for the Radcliffe wave by looking into a possible relationship between the gas structure and the Orion (local) arm. We use catalogs of massive stars and young open clusters based on Gaia Early Data Release 3 (EDR3) astrometry, in conjunction with kiloparsec-scale 3D dust maps, to investigate the Galactic XY spatial distributions of gas and young stars. We find a quasi-parallel offset between the luminous blue stars and the Radcliffe wave, in that massive stars and clusters are found essentially inside and downstream from the Radcliffe wave. We examine this offset in the context of color gradients observed in the spiral arms of external galaxies, where the interplay between density wave theory, spiral shocks, and triggered star formation has been used to interpret this particular arrangement of gas and dust as well as OB stars, and outline other potential explanations as well. We hypothesize that the Radcliffe wave constitutes the gas reservoir of the Orion (local) arm, and that it presents itself as a prime laboratory to study the interfacemore »between Galactic structure, the formation of molecular clouds in the Milky Way, and star formation.« less

    The highly-substructured outskirts of the Magellanic Clouds provide ideal locations for studying the complex interaction history between both Clouds and the Milky Way (MW). In this paper, we investigate the origin of a >20° long arm-like feature in the northern outskirts of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) using data from the Magellanic Edges Survey (MagES) and Gaia EDR3. We find that the arm has a similar geometry and metallicity to the nearby outer LMC disc, indicating that it is comprised of perturbed disc material. Whilst the azimuthal velocity and velocity dispersions along the arm are consistent with those in the outer LMC, the in-plane radial velocity and out-of-plane vertical velocity are significantly perturbed from equilibrium disc kinematics. We compare these observations to a new suite of dynamical models of the Magellanic/MW system, which describe the LMC as a collection of tracer particles within a rigid potential, and the SMC as a rigid Hernquist potential. Our models indicate the tidal force of the MW during the LMC’s infall is likely responsible for the observed increasing out-of-plane velocity along the arm. Our models also suggest close LMC/SMC interactions within the past Gyr, particularly the SMC’s pericentric passage ∼150 Myr ago and amore »possible SMC crossing of the LMC disc plane ∼400 Myr ago, likely do not perturb stars that today comprise the arm. Historical interactions with the SMC prior to ∼1 Gyr ago may be required to explain some of the observed kinematic properties of the arm, in particular its strongly negative in-plane radial velocity.

    « less
  4. ABSTRACT Studies of T Tauri discs inform planet formation theory; observations of variability due to occultation by circumstellar dust are a useful probe of unresolved, planet-forming inner discs, especially around faint M dwarf stars. We report observations of 2M0632, an M dwarf member of the Carina young moving group that was observed by Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite over two 1-yr intervals. The combined light curve contains >300 dimming events, each lasting a few hours, and as deep as 40 per cent (0.55 magnitudes). These stochastic events are correlated with a distinct, stable 1.86-d periodic signal that could be stellar rotation. Concurrent ground-based, multiband photometry show reddening consistent with interstellar medium-like dust. The star’s excess emission in the infrared and emission lines in optical and infrared spectra reveal a T Tauri-like accretion disc around the star. We confirm membership of 2M0632 in the Carina group by a Bayesian analysis of its Galactic space motion and position. We combine stellar evolution models with Gaia photometry and constraints on Teff, luminosity, and the absence of detectable lithium in the photosphere to constrain the age of the group and 2M0632 to 40–60 Myr, consistent with earlier estimates. 2M0632 joins a handful of long-lived discs which challenge themore »canon that disc lifetimes are ≲10 Myr. All known examples surround M dwarfs, suggesting that lower X-ray/ultraviolet irradiation and slower photoevaporation by these stars can dramatically affect disc evolution. The multiplanet systems spawned by long-lived discs probably experienced significant orbital damping and migration into close-in, resonant orbits, and perhaps represented by the TRAPPIST-1 system.« less
  5. Abstract

    Recent analyses of Gaia data have resulted in the identification of new stellar structures, including a new class of extended stellar filaments called stellar “strings,” first proposed by Kounkel & Covey. We explore the spatial, kinematic, and chemical composition of strings to demonstrate that these newfound structures are largely inconsistent with being physical objects whose members share a common origin. Examining the 3D spatial distribution of string members, we find that the spatial dispersion around the claimed string spine does not improve in the latest Gaia DR3 data release—despite tangible gains in the signal-to-noise ratio of the parallax measurements—counter to expectations of a bona fide structure. Using the radial velocity dispersion of the strings (averagingσVr=16kms1) to estimate their virial masses, we find that all strings are gravitationally unbound. Given the finding that the strings are dispersing, the reported stellar ages of the strings are typically 120× larger than their measured dispersal times. Finally, we validate prior work that stellar strings are more chemically homogeneous than their local field stars but show it is possible to obtain the same signatures of chemical homogeneity by drawing random samples of stars from spatially, temporally, and kinematicallymore »unrelated open clusters. Our results show that while some strings may be composed of real substructures, there is no consistent evidence for larger string-like connections over the sample. These results underscore the need for caution in over-interpreting the significance of these strings and their role in understanding the star formation history of the Milky Way.

    « less