Author(s): , , , ,
Institution(s): 1. MPIA, 2. RIT, 3. UIUC, 4. USRA
Infrared Dark Clouds (IRDCs) are very good candidates for the earliest phases of massive star formation, but can only be found in regions with high infrared background. We have searched for early phases among cold and massive (M>100M⊙) cloud cores by selecting cores from millimeter continuum surveys (Faundez et al. 2004, Sridharan et al. 2005, Klein et al. 2005, Beltran et al. 2006) without associations at short wavelengths. We compared the millimeter continuum peak positions with IR and radio catalogs (2MASS, MSX, IRAS, and NVSS) and excluded cores that had sources associated with the cores' peaks. We compiled a list of 173 cores in over 117 regions that are candidates for very early phases of Massive Star Formation (MSF). Now with the Spitzer and Herschel archives, these cores can be characterized further. The GLIMPSE and MIPSGAL programs alone covered 86 of these regions. The Herschel Archive adds even longer wavelengths. We are compiling this data set to construct the complete spectral energy distribution (SED) in the mid- and far-infrared with good spatial resolution and broad spectral coverage. This allow us to disentangle the complex regions and model the SED of the deeply embedded protostars/clusters.
We will be presenting the IR properties of all cores and their embedded source, attempt a characterization, and order the cores in an evolutionary sequence. The resulting properties can be compared to e.g. IRDCs, a class of objects suggested to be the earliest stages of MSF. With the relative large number of cores, we can try to answer questions like: How homogeneous or diverse are our regions in terms of their evolutionary stage? Where do our embedded sources fit in the evolutionary sequence of IRDCs, hot molecular cores, ultra-compact HII regions, etc? How is the MSF shaping the environment and vice versa? Can we extrapolate to the initial conditions of MSF using our evolutionary sequence?