Discovery of large-scale gravitational infall in a massive protostellar cluster

Peter J. Barnes*, Yoshinori Yonekura, Stuart D. Ryder, Andrew M. Hopkins, Yosuke Miyamoto, Naoko Furukawa, Yasuo Fukui

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


We report Mopra Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF), Anglo-Australian Telescope and Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment observations of a molecular clump in Carina, BYF73 = G286.21+0.17, which give evidence of large-scale gravitational infall in the dense gas. From the millimetre and far-infrared data, the clump has a mass of ∼2 × 104 M, luminosity of ∼2-3 × 104 L and diameter of ∼0.9 pc. From radiative transfer modelling, we derive a mass infall rate of ∼3.4 × 10-2 M yr-1. If confirmed, this rate for gravitational infall in a molecular core or clump may be the highest yet seen. The near-infrared K-band imaging shows an adjacent compact H ii region and IR cluster surrounded by a shell-like photodissociation region showing H2 emission. At the molecular infall peak, the K imaging also reveals a deeply embedded group of stars with associated H2 emission. The combination of these features is very unusual, and we suggest that they indicate the ongoing formation of a massive star cluster. We discuss the implications of these data for competing theories of massive star formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-86
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrochemistry
  • Infrared: ISM
  • ISM: kinematics and dynamics
  • ISM: molecules
  • Radio lines: ISM
  • Stars: formation


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