Astrophys. J., 716, 1453-1477 (2010/June-3)
Disentangling protostellar evolutionary stages in clustered environments using Spitzer-IRS spectra and comprehensive spectral energy distribution modeling.
FORBRICH J., TAPPE A., ROBITAILLE T., MUENCH A.A., TEIXEIRA P.S., LADA E.A., STOLTE A. and LADA C.J.
Abstract (from CDS):
When studying the evolutionary stages of protostars that form in clusters, the role of any intracluster medium cannot be neglected. High foreground extinction can lead to situations where young stellar objects (YSOs) appear to be in earlier evolutionary stages than they actually are, particularly when using simple criteria like spectral indices. To address this issue, we have assembled detailed spectral energy distribution characterizations of a sample of 56 Spitzer-identified candidate YSOs in the clusters NGC 2264 and IC 348. For these, we use spectra obtained with the Infrared Spectrograph (IRS) on board the Spitzer Space Telescope and ancillary multi-wavelength photometry. The primary aim is twofold: (1) to discuss the role of spectral features, particularly those due to ices and silicates, in determining a YSO's evolutionary stage, and (2) to perform comprehensive modeling of SEDs enhanced by the IRS data. The SEDs consist of ancillary optical-to-submillimeter multi-wavelength data as well as an accurate description of the 9.7 µm silicate feature and of the mid-infrared continuum derived from line-free parts of the IRS spectra. We find that using this approach, we can distinguish genuine protostars in the cluster from T Tauri stars masquerading as protostars due to external foreground extinction. Our results underline the importance of photometric data in the far-infrared/submillimeter wavelength range, at sufficiently high angular resolution to more accurately classify cluster members. Such observations are becoming possible now with the advent of the Herschel Space Observatory.
circumstellar matter - infrared: stars - open clusters and associations: individual (NGC 2264, IC 348)
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