Linking low- to high-mass young stellar objects with Herschel-HIFI observations of water

San José-García, I., Mottram, J. C., van Dishoeck, E. F., Kristensen, L. E., van der Tak, F. F. S., Braine, J., Herpin, F., Johnstone, D., van Kempen, T. A. & Wyrowski, F., 2016, In : Astronomy and astrophysics. 585, January 2016 , 30 p., A103.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  • I. San José-García
  • J. C. Mottram
  • E. F. van Dishoeck
  • L. E. Kristensen
  • F. F. S. van der Tak
  • J. Braine
  • F. Herpin
  • D. Johnstone
  • T. A. van Kempen
  • F. Wyrowski
Context. Water probes the dynamics in young stellar objects (YSOs) effectively, especially shocks in molecular outflows. It is therefore a key molecule for exploring whether the physical properties of low-mass protostars can be extrapolated to massive YSOs, an important step in understanding the fundamental mechanisms regulating star formation. Aims: As part of the WISH key programme, we investigate excited water line properties as a function of source luminosity, in particular the dynamics and the excitation conditions of shocks along the outflow cavity wall. Methods: Velocity-resolved Herschel-HIFI spectra of the H2O 202-111 (988 GHz), 211-202 (752 GHz) and 312-303 (1097 GHz) lines were analysed, together with 12CO J = 10-9 and 16-15, for 52 YSOs with bolometric luminosities ranging from 105 L⊙. The H2O and 12CO line profiles were decomposed into multiple Gaussian components which are related to the different physical structures of the protostellar system. The non-LTE radiative transfer code radex was used to constrain the excitation conditions of the shocks along the outflow cavity. Results: The profiles of the three excited water lines are similar, indicating that they probe the same gas. Two main emission components are seen in all YSOs: a broad component associated with non-dissociative shocks in the outflow cavity wall ("cavity shocks") and a narrow component associated with the quiescent envelope material. More than 60% of the total integrated intensity in the excited water lines comes from the broad cavity shock component, while the remaining emission comes mostly from the envelope for low-mass Class I, intermediate- and high-mass objects, and dissociative "spot shocks" for low-mass Class 0 protostars. The widths of the water lines are surprisingly similar from low- to high-mass YSOs, whereas 12CO J = 10-9 line widths increase slightly with Lbol. The excitation analysis of the cavity shock component shows stronger 752 GHz emission for high-mass YSOs, most likely due to pumping by an infrared radiation field. Finally, a strong correlation with slope unity is measured between the logarithms of the total H2O line luminosity, LH2O, and Lbol, which can be extrapolated to extragalactic sources. This linear correlation, also found for CO, implies that both species primarily trace dense gas directly related to star formation activity. Conclusions: The water emission probed by spectrally unresolved data is largely due to shocks. Broad water and high-J CO lines originate in shocks in the outflow cavity walls for both low- and high-mass YSOs, whereas lower-J CO transitions mostly trace entrained outflow gas. The higher UV field and turbulent motions in high-mass objects compared to their low-mass counterparts may explain the slightly different kinematical properties of 12CO J = 10-9 and H2O lines from low- to high-mass YSOs. Herschel is an ESA space observatory with science instruments provided by European-led Principal Investigator consortia and with important participation from NASA.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA103
Number of pages30
JournalAstronomy and astrophysics
Issue numberJanuary 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • stars: formation, stars: protostars, ISM: molecules, ISM: kinematics and dynamics, line: profiles

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