Herschel far-infrared observations of the Carina Nebula complex. I. Introduction and global cloud structure
Publication date: 15 May 2012
Authors: Preibisch, T., et al.
Journal: Astronomy and Astrophysics
Context. The Carina Nebula represents one of the most massive star forming regions known in our Galaxy and displays a high level of feedback from the large number of very massive stars. While the stellar content is now well known from recent deep X-ray and near-infrared surveys, the properties of the clouds remained rather poorly studied until today. Methods. We used SPIRE and PACS onboard of Herschel to map the full spatial extent (~5.3 square-degrees) of the clouds in the Carina Nebula complex at wavelengths between 70 and 500 micron. We used here the 70 micron and 160 micron far-infrared maps to determine color temperatures and column densities, and to investigate the global properties of the gas and dust clouds in the complex. Results. Our Herschel maps show the far-infrared morphology of the clouds at unprecedented high angular resolution. The clouds show a very complex and filamentary structure that is dominated by the radiation and wind feedback from the massive stars. In most locations, the column density of the clouds is NH < 2 × 1022 cm-2 (corresponding to visual extinctions of AV < 10 mag); denser cloud structures are restricted to the massive cloud west of Tr 14 and the innermost parts of large pillars. Our temperature map shows a clear large-scale gradient from ~35-40 K in the central region to <20 K at the periphery and in the densest parts of individual pillars. The total mass of the clouds seen by Herschel in the central (1 degree radius) region is ~656 000 M_Sun. We also derive the global spectral energy distribution in the mid-infrared to mm wavelength range. A simple radiative transfer model suggests that the total mass of all the gas (including a warmer component that is not well traced by Herschel) in the central 1 degree radius region is ~890 000 M_Sun. [Abstract abbreviated due to character limitations.]Link to publication