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  1. ABSTRACT We study the formation, evolution, and collapse of dense cores by tracking structures in a magnetohydrodynamic simulation of a star-forming cloud. We identify cores using the dendrogram algorithm and utilize machine learning techniques, including Neural Gas prototype learning and Fuzzy c-means clustering to analyse the density and velocity dispersion profiles of cores together with six bulk properties. We produce a 2-d visualization using a Uniform Manifold Approximation and Projection (UMAP), which facilitates the connection between physical properties and three partially-overlapping phases: i) unbound turbulent structures (Phase I), ii) coherent cores that have low turbulence (Phase II), and iii) bound cores, many of which become protostellar (Phase III). Within Phase II, we identify a population of long-lived coherent cores that reach a quasi-equilibrium state. Most prestellar cores form in Phase II and become protostellar after evolving into Phase III. Due to the turbulent cloud environment, the initial core properties do not uniquely predict the eventual evolution, i.e. core evolution is stochastic, and cores follow no one evolutionary path. The phase lifetimes are 1.0 ± 0.1 × 105 yr, 1.3 ± 0.2 × 105 yr, and 1.8 ± 0.3 × 105 yr for Phase I, II, and III, respectively. We compare our results to NH3 observations of dense cores. Known coherent cores predominantly map into Phasemore »II, while most turbulent pressure-confined cores map to Phase I or III. We predict that a significant fraction of observed starless cores have unresolved coherent regions and that ≳20 per cent of observed starless cores will not form stars. Measurements of core radial profiles in addition to the usual bulk properties will enable more accurate predictions of core evolution.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 7, 2023
  2. Abstract

    Characterizing the physical conditions at disk scales in class 0 sources is crucial for constraining the protostellar accretion process and the initial conditions for planet formation. We use ALMA 1.3 and 3 mm observations to investigate the physical conditions of the dust around the class 0 binary IRAS 16293–2422 A down to ∼10 au scales. The circumbinary material’s spectral index,α, has a median of 3.1 and a dispersion of ∼0.2, providing no firm evidence of millimeter-sized grains therein. Continuum substructures with brightness temperature peaks ofTb∼ 60–80 K at 1.3 mm are observed near the disks at both wavelengths. These peaks do not overlap with strong variations ofα, indicating that they trace high-temperature spots instead of regions with significant optical depth variations. The lower limits to the inferred dust temperature in the hot spots are 122, 87, and 49 K. Depending on the assumed dust opacity index, these values can be several times higher. They overlap with high gas temperatures and enhanced complex organic molecular emission. This newly resolved dust temperature distribution is in better agreement with the expectations from mechanical instead of the most commonly assumed radiative heating. In particular, we find that the temperatures agree with shock heatingmore »predictions. This evidence and recent studies highlighting accretion heating in class 0 disks suggest that mechanical heating (shocks, dissipation powered by accretion, etc.) is important during the early stages and should be considered when modeling and measuring properties of deeply embedded protostars and disks.

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    Filamentary structures have been found nearly ubiquitously in molecular clouds and yet their formation and evolution is still poorly understood. We examine a segment of Taurus Molecular Cloud 1 (TMC-1) that appears as a single, narrow filament in continuum emission from dust. We use the Regularized Optimization for Hyper-Spectral Analysis (ROHSA), a Gaussian decomposition algorithm that enforces spatial coherence when fitting multiple velocity components simultaneously over a data cube. We analyse HC5N (9–8) line emission as part of the Green Bank Ammonia Survey and identify three velocity-coherent components with ROHSA. The two brightest components extend the length of the filament, while the third component is fainter and clumpier. The brightest component has a prominent transverse velocity gradient of 2.7 ± 0.1 km s−1 pc−1 that we show to be indicative of gravitationally induced inflow. In the second component, we identify regularly spaced emission peaks along its length. We show that the local minima between pairs of adjacent HC5N peaks line up closely with submillimetre continuum emission peaks, which we argue is evidence for fragmentation along the spine of TMC-1. While coherent velocity components have been described as separate physical structures in other star-forming filaments, we argue that the two bright components identified in HC5Nmore »emission in TMC-1 are tracing two layers in one filament: a lower density outer layer whose material is flowing under gravity towards the higher density inner layer of the filament.

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  4. Abstract

    pyspeckitis a toolkit and library for spectroscopic analysis in Python. We describe thepyspeckitpackage and highlight some of its capabilities, such as interactively fitting a model to data, akin to the historically widely-usedsplotfunction inIRAF.pyspeckitemploys the Levenberg–Marquardt optimization method via thempfitandlmfitimplementations, and important assumptions regarding error estimation are described here. Wrappers to usepymcandemceeas optimizers are provided. A parallelized wrapper to fit lines in spectral cubes is included. As part of theastropyaffiliated package ecosystem,pyspeckitis open source and open development, and welcomes input and collaboration from the community.

  5. Abstract We use 3 mm continuum NOrthern Extended Millimeter Array and NH 3 Very Large Array observations toward the First Hydrostatic Core (FHSC) candidate CB 17 MMS in order to reveal the dust structure and gas properties to 600–1100 au scales and to constrain its evolutionary stage. We do not detect any compact source at the previously identified 1.3 mm point source, despite expecting a minimum signal-to-noise ratio of 9. The gas traced by NH 3 exhibits subsonic motions, with an average temperature of 10.4 K. A fit of the radial column density profile derived from the ammonia emission finds a flat inner region of radius ∼1800 au and a central density of ∼6 × 10 5 cm −3 . Virial and density structure analysis reveals the core is marginally bound ( α vir = 0.73). The region is entirely consistent with that of a young starless core, hence ruling out CB 17 MMS as an FHSC candidate. Additionally, the core exhibits a velocity gradient aligned with the major axis, showing an arc-like structure in the position–velocity diagram and an off-center region with high velocity dispersion, caused by two distinct velocity peaks. These features could be due to interactions withmore »the nearby outflow, which appears to deflect due to the dense gas near the NH 3 column density peak. We investigate the specific angular momentum profile of the starless core, finding that it aligns closely with previous studies of similar radial profiles in Class 0 sources. This similarity to more evolved objects suggests that motions at 1000 au scales are determined by large-scale dense cloud motions, and may be preserved throughout the early stages of star formation.« less
  6. Abstract Spectral lines of ammonia, NH 3 , are useful probes of the physical conditions in dense molecular cloud cores. In addition to advantages in spectroscopy, ammonia has also been suggested to be resistant to freezing onto grain surfaces, which should make it a superior tool for studying the interior parts of cold, dense cores. Here we present high-resolution NH 3 observations with the Very Large Array and Green Bank Telescope toward a prestellar core. These observations show an outer region with a fractional NH 3 abundance of X (NH 3 ) = (1.975 ± 0.005) × 10 −8 (±10% systematic), but it also reveals that, after all, the X (NH 3 ) starts to decrease above a H 2 column density of ≈2.6 × 10 22 cm −2 . We derive a density model for the core and find that the break point in the fractional abundance occurs at the density n (H 2 ) ∼ 2 × 10 5 cm −3 , and beyond this point the fractional abundance decreases with increasing density, following the power law n −1.1 . This power-law behavior is well reproduced by chemical models where adsorption onto grains dominates the removal of ammoniamore »and related species from the gas at high densities. We suggest that the break-point density changes from core to core depending on the temperature and the grain properties, but that the depletion power law is anyway likely to be close to n −1 owing to the dominance of accretion in the central parts of starless cores.« less
  7. Abstract Prestellar cores represent the initial conditions in the process of star and planet formation. Their low temperatures (<10 K) allow the formation of thick icy dust mantles, which will be partially preserved in future protoplanetary disks, ultimately affecting the chemical composition of planetary systems. Previous observations have shown that carbon- and oxygen-bearing species, in particular CO, are heavily depleted in prestellar cores due to the efficient molecular freeze-out onto the surface of cold dust grains. However, N-bearing species such as NH 3 and, in particular, its deuterated isotopologues appear to maintain high abundances where CO molecules are mainly in the solid phase. Thanks to ALMA, we present here the first clear observational evidence of NH 2 D freeze-out toward the L1544 prestellar core, suggestive of the presence of a “complete depletion zone” within a ≃1800 au radius, in agreement with astrochemical prestellar core model predictions. Our state-of-the-art chemical model coupled with a non-LTE radiative transfer code demonstrates that NH 2 D becomes mainly incorporated in icy mantles in the central 2000 au and starts freezing out already at ≃7000 au. Radiative transfer effects within the prestellar core cause the NH 2 D(1 11 − 1 01 ) emission tomore »appear centrally concentrated, with a flattened distribution within the central ≃3000 au, unlike the 1.3 mm dust continuum emission, which shows a clear peak within the central ≃1800 au. This prevented NH 2 D freeze-out from being detected in previous observations, where the central 1000 au cannot be spatially resolved.« less
  8. Context. Stars form in cold dense cores showing subsonic velocity dispersions. The parental molecular clouds display higher temperatures and supersonic velocity dispersions. The transition from core to cloud has been observed in velocity dispersion, but temperature and abundance variations are unknown. Aims. We aim to measure the temperature and velocity dispersion across cores and ambient cloud in a single tracer to study the transition between the two regions. Methods. We use NH 3 (1,1) and (2,2) maps in L1688 from the Green Bank Ammonia Survey, smoothed to 1′, and determine the physical properties by fitting the spectra. We identify the coherent cores and study the changes in temperature and velocity dispersion from the cores to the surrounding cloud. Results. We obtain a kinetic temperature map extending beyond dense cores and tracing the cloud, improving from previous maps tracing mostly the cores. The cloud is 4–6 K warmer than the cores, and shows a larger velocity dispersion (Δ σ v = 0.15–0.25 km s −1 ). Comparing to Herschel -based dust temperatures, we find that cores show kinetic temperatures that are ≈1.8 K lower than the dust temperature, while the gas temperature is higher than the dust temperature in the cloud.more »We find an average p-NH 3 fractional abundance (with respect to H 2 ) of (4.2 ± 0.2) × 10 −9 towards the coherent cores, and (1.4 ± 0.1) × 10 −9 outside the core boundaries. Using stacked spectra, we detect two components, one narrow and one broad, towards cores and their neighbourhoods. We find the turbulence in the narrow component to be correlated with the size of the structure (Pearson- r = 0.54). With these unresolved regional measurements, we obtain a turbulence–size relation of σ v,NT ∝ r 0.5 , which is similar to previous findings using multiple tracers. Conclusions. We discover that the subsonic component extends up to 0.15 pc beyond the typical coherent boundaries, unveiling larger extents of the coherent cores and showing gradual transition to coherence over ~0.2 pc.« less
  9. ABSTRACT We present ALMA 3 mm molecular line and continuum observations with a resolution of ∼3.5 arcsec towards five first hydrostatic core (FHSC) candidates (L1451-mm, Per-bolo 58, Per-bolo 45, L1448-IRS2E, and Cha-MMS1). Our goal is to characterize their envelopes and identify the most promising sources that could be bona fide FHSCs. We identify two candidates that are consistent with an extremely young evolutionary state (L1451-mm and Cha-MMS1), with L1451-mm being the most promising FHSC candidate. Although our envelope observations cannot rule out Cha-MMS1 as an FHSC yet, the properties of its CO outflow and SED published in recent studies are in better agreement with the predictions for a young protostar. For the remaining three sources, our observations favour a pre-stellar nature for Per-bolo 45 and rule out the rest as FHSC candidates. Per-bolo 58 is fully consistent with being a Class 0, while L1448 IRS2E shows no emission of high-density tracers (NH2D and N2H+) at the location of the previously identified compact continuum source, which is also undetected in our observations. Thus, we argue that there is no embedded source at the presumptive location of the FHSC candidate L1448 IRS2E. We propose instead that what was thought to be emission from themore »presumed L1448 IRS2E outflow corresponds to outflow emission from a nearby Class 0 system, deflected by the dense ambient material. We compare the properties of the FHSC candidates studied in this work and the literature, which shows that L1451-mm appears as possibly the youngest source with a confirmed outflow.« less