A Massive protostar forming by ordered collapse of a dense, massive core

Yichen Zhang, Jonathan C. Tan, Barbara Whitney, James M. De Buizer, Göran Sandell, Maria T. Beltran, Ed Churchwell, Christopher F. McKee, Ralph Shuping, Jan E. Staff, Charles Telesco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


We present 30 and 40 μm imaging of the massive protostar G35.20-0.74 with SOFIA-FORCAST. The high surface density of the natal core around the protostar leads to high extinction, even at these relatively long wavelengths, causing the observed flux to be dominated by that emerging from the near-facing outflow cavity. However, emission from the far-facing cavity is still clearly detected. We combine these results with fluxes from the near-infrared to mm to construct a spectral energy distribution (SED). For isotropic emission the bolometric luminosity would be 3.3 × 10⁴ L⊙. We perform radiative transfer modeling of a protostar forming by ordered, symmetric collapse from a massive core bounded by a clump with high-mass surface density, Σcl. To fit the SED requires protostellar masses ~20-34 M⊙ depending on the outflow cavity opening angle (35°-50°), and Σcl ~ 0.4-1 g cm⁻². After accounting for the foreground extinction and the flashlight effect, the true bolometric luminosity is ~(0.7-2.2) × 10⁵ L⊙. One of these models also has excellent agreement with the observed intensity profiles along the outflow axis at 10, 18, 31, and 37 μm. Overall our results support a model of massive star formation involving the relatively ordered, symmetric collapse of a massive, dense core and the launching bipolar outflows that clear low-density cavities. Thus a unified model may apply for the formation of both low- and high-mass stars.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • stars: formation


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