Spitzer mapping of molecular hydrogen pure rotational lines in NGC 1333: A detailed study of feedback in star formation

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Maret, Sebastien
Bergin, Edwin A.
Neufeld, David A.
Green, Joel D.
Watson, Dan M.
Harwit, Martin O.
Kristensen, Lars E.
Melnick, Gary J.
Sonnentrucker, Paule
Tolls, Volker
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We present mid-infrared spectral maps of the NGC 1333 star forming region, obtained with the the Infrared Spectrometer on board the Spitzer Space Telescope. Eight pure H2 rotational lines, from S (0) to S (7), are detected and mapped. The H2 emission appears to be associated with the warm gas shocked by the multiple outflows present in the region. A comparison between the observed intensities and the predictions of detailed shock models indicates that the emission arises in both slow (12 - 24 km/s) and fast (36 - 53 km/s) C-type shocks with an initial ortho-to-para ratio of ~ 1. The present H2 ortho-to-para ratio exhibits a large degree of spatial variations. In the post-shocked gas, it is usually about 2, i.e. close to the equilibrium value (~ 3). However, around at least two outflows, we observe a region with a much lower (~ 0.5) ortho-to-para ratio. This region probably corresponds to gas which has been heated-up recently by the passage of a shock front, but whose ortho-to-para has not reached equilibrium yet. This, together with the low initial ortho-to-para ratio needed to reproduce the observed emission, provide strong evidence that H2 is mostly in para form in cold molecular clouds. The H2 lines are found to contribute to 25 - 50% of the total outflow luminosity, and thus can be used to ascertain the importance of star formation feedback on the natal cloud. From these lines, we determine the outflow mass loss rate and, indirectly, the stellar infall rate, the outflow momentum and the kinetic energy injected into the cloud over the embedded phase. The latter is found to exceed the binding energy of individual cores, suggesting that outflows could be the main mechanism for core disruption.
Comment: Accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal
Keywords
Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics
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