Publication archive

Publication archive

The 'snowline' conventionally divides Solar System objects into dry bodies, ranging out to the main asteroid belt, and icy bodies beyond the belt. Models suggest that some of the icy bodies may have migrated into the asteroid belt. Recent observations indicate the presence of water ice on the surface of some asteroids, with sublimation a potential reason for the dust activity observed on others. Hydrated minerals have been found on the surface of the largest object in the asteroid belt, the dwarf planet (1) Ceres, which is thought to be differentiated into a silicate core with an icy mantle. The presence of water vapour around Ceres was suggested by a marginal detection of the photodissociation product of water, hydroxyl, but could not be confirmed by later, more sensitive observations. Here we report the detection of water vapour around Ceres, with at least 1026 molecules being produced per second, originating from localized sources that seem to be linked to mid-latitude regions on the surface. The water evaporation could be due to comet-like sublimation or to cryo-volcanism, in which volcanoes erupt volatiles such as water instead of molten rocks.
Published: 22 January 2014
Noble gas molecules have not hitherto been detected in space. From spectra obtained with the Herschel Space Observatory, we report the detection of emission in the 617.5- and 1234.6-gigahertz J=1-0 and 2-1 rotational lines of 36ArH+ at several positions in the Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant known to contain both molecular hydrogen and regions of enhanced ionized argon emission. Argon-36 is believed to have originated from explosive nucleosynthesis in massive stars during core-collapse supernova events. Its detection in the Crab Nebula, the product of such a supernova event, confirms this expectation. The likely excitation mechanism for the observed 36Ar emission lines is electron collisions in partially ionized regions with electron densities of a few hundred per centimeter cubed.
Published: 13 December 2013
Gravitational lensing of the cosmic microwave background generates a curl pattern in the observed polarization. This "B-mode" signal provides a measure of the projected mass distribution over the entire observable Universe and also acts as a contaminant for the measurement of primordial gravity-wave signals. In this Letter we present the first detection of gravitational lensing B modes, using first-season data from the polarization-sensitive receiver on the South Pole Telescope (SPTpol). We construct a template for the lensing B-mode signal by combining E-mode polarization measured by SPTpol with estimates of the lensing potential from a Herschel-SPIRE map of the cosmic infrared background. We compare this template to the B modes measured directly by SPTpol, finding a nonzero correlation at 7.7 sigma significance. The correlation has an amplitude and scale dependence consistent with theoretical expectations, is robust with respect to analysis choices, and constitutes the first measurement of a powerful cosmological observable.
Published: 01 October 2013
We use a temperature map of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) obtained using the South Pole Telescope at 150 GHz to construct a map of the gravitational convergence to z ~ 1100, revealing the fluctuations in the projected mass density. This map shows individual features that are significant at the ~4 sigma level, providing the first image of CMB lensing convergence. We cross-correlate this map with Herschel/SPIRE maps covering 90 deg² at wavelengths of 500, 350, and 250 micron. We show that these submillimeter (submm) wavelength maps are strongly correlated with the lensing convergence map, with detection significances in each of the three submm bands ranging from 6.7 sigma to 8.8 sigma. We fit the measurement of the cross power spectrum assuming a simple constant bias model and infer bias factors of b = 1.3-1.8, with a statistical uncertainty of 15%, depending on the assumed model for the redshift distribution of the dusty galaxies that are contributing to the Herschel/SPIRE maps.
Published: 20 June 2013
Context. The [C II] 158 um line is an important tool for understanding the life cycle of interstellar matter. Ionized carbon is present in a variety of phases of the interstellar medium (ISM), including the diffuse ionized medium, warm and cold atomic clouds, clouds in transition from atomic to molecular, and dense and warm photon dominated regions (PDRs). Aims. Velocity-resolved observations of [C II] are the most powerful technique available to disentangle the emission produced by these components. These observations can also be used to trace CO-dark H2 gas and determine the total mass of the ISM. Methods. The Galactic Observations of Terahertz C+ (GOT C+) project surveys the [C II] 158 um line over the entire Galactic disk with velocity-resolved observations using the Herschel/HIFI instrument. We present the first longitude-velocity maps of the [C II] emission for Galactic latitudes b = 0°, ±0.5°, and ±1.0°. We combine these maps with those of HI, 12CO, and 13CO to separate the different phases of the ISM and study their properties and distribution in the Galactic plane. Results. [C II] emission is mostly associated with spiral arms, mainly emerging from Galactocentric distances between 4 and 10 kpc. It traces the envelopes of evolved clouds as well as clouds that are in the transition between atomic and molecular. We estimate that most of the observed [C II] emission is produced by dense photon dominated regions (~47%), with smaller contributions from CO- dark H2 gas (~28%), cold atomic gas (~21%), and ionized gas (~4%). Atomic gas inside the Solar radius is mostly in the form of cold neutral medium (CNM), while the warm neutral medium (WNM) gas dominates the outer galaxy. The average fraction of CNM relative to total atomic gas is ~43%.

The remainder of the abstract is truncated

Published: 12 June 2013
Stellar archaeology shows that massive elliptical galaxies formed rapidly about ten billion years ago with star-formation rates of above several hundred solar masses per year. Their progenitors are probably the submillimetre bright galaxies at redshifts z greater than 2. Although the mean molecular gas mass (5x1010 solar masses) of the submillimetre bright galaxies can explain the formation of typical elliptical galaxies, it is inadequate to form elliptical galaxies that already have stellar masses above 2x1011 solar masses at z~2. Here we report multi-wavelength high-resolution observations of a rare merger of two massive submillimetre bright galaxies at z=2.3. The system is seen to be forming stars at a rate of 2,000 solar masses per year. The star-formation efficiency is an order of magnitude greater than that of normal galaxies, so the gas reservoir will be exhausted and star formation will be quenched in only around 200 million years. At a projected separation of 19 kiloparsecs, the two massive starbursts are about to merge and form a passive elliptical galaxy with a stellar mass of about 4x1011 solar masses. We conclude that gas-rich major galaxy mergers with intense star formation can form the most massive elliptical galaxies by z~1.5.
Published: 23 May 2013
We present a ~52-671 um spectral scan towards Sgr A* taken with the PACS and SPIRE spectrometers onboard Herschel. The achieved angular resolution allows us to separate, for the first time at far-IR wavelengths, the emission towards the central cavity (gas in the inner central parsec of the galaxy) from that of the surrounding circum-nuclear disk. The spectrum towards SgrA* is dominated by strong [OIII], [OI], [CII], [NIII], [NII], and [CI] fine structure lines (in decreasing order of luminosity) arising in gas irradiated by UV-photons from the central stellar cluster. In addition, rotationally excited lines of 12CO (from J=4-3 to 24-23), 12CO, H2O, OH, H3O+, HCO+ and HCN, as well as ground- state absorption lines of OH+, H2O+, H3O+, CH+, H2O, OH, HF, CH and NH are detected. The excitation of the 12CO ladder is consistent with a hot isothermal component at Tk=103.1 K and n(H2)<=104 cm-3. It is also consistent with a distribution of temperature components at higher density with most CO at Tk<~300 K. The detected molecular features suggest that, at present, neither very enhanced X-ray, nor cosmic-ray fluxes play a dominant role in the heating of the hot molecular gas. The hot CO component (either the bulk of the CO column or just a small fraction depending on the above scenario) results from a combination of UV- and shock-driven heating. If irradiated dense clumps/clouds do not exist, shocks likely dominate the heating of the hot molecular gas. This is consistent with the high-velocity gas detected towards SgrA*.
Published: 08 May 2013
Context. In the past 15 years, several studies suggested that water in the stratosphere of Jupiter originated from the Shoemaker-Levy 9 (SL9) comet impacts in July 1994, but direct proof was missing. Only a very sensitive instrument observing with high spectral/spatial resolution can help to solve this problem. This is the case of the Herschel Space Observatory, which is the first telescope capable of mapping water in Jupiter's stratosphere.

Aims. We observed the spatial distribution of water emission in Jupiter's stratosphere with the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared (HIFI) and the Photodetector Array Camera and Spectrometer (PACS) onboard Herschel to constrain its origin. In parallel, we monitored Jupiter's stratospheric temperature with the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) to separate temperature from water variability.

Methods. We obtained a 25-point map of the 1669.9 GHz water line with HIFI in July 2010 and several maps with PACS in October 2009 and December 2010. The 2010 PACS map is a 400-point raster of the water 66.4 um emission. Additionally, we mapped the methane v4 band emission to constrain the stratospheric temperature in Jupiter in the same periods with the IRTF.

Results. Water is found to be restricted to pressures lower than 2 mbar. Its column density decreases by a factor of 2-3 between southern and northern latitudes, consistently between the HIFI and the PACS 66.4 um maps. We infer that an emission maximum seen around 15 °S is caused by a warm stratospheric belt detected in the IRTF data.

Conclusions. Latitudinal temperature variability cannot explain the global north-south asymmetry in the water maps. From the latitudinal and vertical distributions of water in Jupiter's stratosphere, we rule out interplanetary dust particles as its main source. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Jupiter's stratospheric water was delivered by SL9 and that more than 95% of the observed water comes from the comet according to our models.
Published: 24 April 2013
Massive present-day early-type (elliptical and lenticular) galaxies probably gained the bulk of their stellar mass and heavy elements through intense, dust-enshrouded starbursts - that is, increased rates of star formation - in the most massive dark-matter haloes at early epochs. However, it remains unknown how soon after the Big Bang massive starburst progenitors exist. The measured redshift (z) distribution of dusty, massive starbursts has long been suspected to be biased low in z owing to selection effects, as confirmed by recent findings of systems with redshifts as high as ~5 (refs 2-4). Here we report the identification of a massive starburst galaxy at z = 6.34 through a submillimetre colour-selection technique. We unambiguously determined the redshift from a suite of molecular and atomic fine-structure cooling lines. These measurements reveal a hundred billion solar masses of highly excited, chemically evolved interstellar medium in this galaxy, which constitutes at least 40 per cent of the baryonic mass. A 'maximum starburst' converts the gas into stars at a rate more than 2,000 times that of the Milky Way, a rate among the highest observed at any epoch. Despite the overall downturn in cosmic star formation towards the highest redshifts, it seems that environments mature enough to form the most massive, intense starbursts existed at least as early as 880 million years after the Big Bang.
Published: 19 April 2013
The W3 GMC is a prime target for the study of the early stages of high-mass star formation. We have used Herschel data from the HOBYS key program to produce and analyze column density and temperature maps. Two preliminary catalogs were produced by extracting sources from the column density map and from Herschel maps convolved to 500 Œm resolution. Herschel reveals that among the compact sources (FWHM < 0.45 pc), W3 East, W3 West, and W3 (OH) are the most massive and luminous and have the highest column density. Considering the unique properties of W3 East and W3 West, the only clumps with ongoing high-mass star formation, we suggest a "convergent constructive feedback" scenario to account for the formation of a cluster with decreasing age and increasing system/source mass toward the innermost regions. This process, which relies on feedback by high-mass stars to ensure the availability of material during cluster formation, could also lead to the creation of an environment suitable for the formation of Trapezium-like systems. In common with other scenarios proposed in other HOBYS studies, our results indicate that an active/dynamic process aiding in the accumulation, compression, and confinement of material is a critical feature of the high-mass star/cluster formation, distinguishing it from classical low-mass star formation. The environmental conditions and availability of triggers determine the form in which this process occurs, implying that high-mass star/cluster formation could arise from a range of scenarios: from large-scale convergence of turbulent flows to convergent constructive feedback or mergers of filaments.
Published: 02 March 2013
A key parameter to the description of all star formation processes is the density structure of the gas. In this Letter, we make use of probability distribution functions (PDFs) of Herschel column density maps of Orion B, Aquila, and Polaris, obtained with the Herschel Gould Belt survey (HGBS). We aim to understand which physical processes influence the PDF shape, and with which signatures. The PDFs of Orion B (Aquila) show a lognormal distribution for low column densities until AV ~ 3 (6), and a power-law tail for high column densities, consistent with a rho ~ r-2 profile for the equivalent spherical density distribution. The PDF of Orion B is broadened by external compression due to the nearby OB stellar aggregates. The PDF of a quiescent subregion of the non-star-forming Polaris cloud is nearly lognormal, indicating that supersonic turbulence governs the density distribution. But we also observe a deviation from the lognormal shape at AV > 1 for a subregion in Polaris that includes a prominent filament. We conclude that (1) the point where the PDF deviates from the lognormal form does not trace a universal AV -threshold for star formation, (2) statistical density fluctuations, intermittency, and magnetic fields can cause excess from the lognormal PDF at an early cloud formation stage, (3) core formation and/or global collapse of filaments and a non-isothermal gas distribution lead to a power-law tail, and (4) external compression broadens the column density PDF, consistent with numerical simulations.
Published: 13 March 2013
Galactic black hole binaries produce powerful outflows which emit over almost the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Here, we report the first detection with the Herschel observatory of a variable far-infrared source associated with the compact jets of the black hole transient GX 339-4 during the decay of its recent 2010-2011 outburst, after the transition to the hard state. We also outline the results of very sensitive radio observations conducted with the Australia Telescope Compact Array, along with a series of near-infrared, optical (OIR) and X-ray observations, allowing for the first time the re-ignition of the compact jets to be observed over a wide range of wavelengths. The compact jets first turn on at radio frequencies with an optically thin spectrum that later evolves to an optically thick synchrotron emission. An OIR reflare is observed about 10 d after the onset of radio and hard X-ray emission, likely reflecting the necessary time to build up enough density, as well as to have acceleration (e.g. through shocks) along an extended region in the jets. The Herschel measurements are consistent with an extrapolation of the radio inverted power-law spectrum, but they highlight a more complex radio to OIR spectral energy distribution for the jets.
Published: 11 March 2013
From the masses of the planets orbiting the Sun, and the abundance of elements relative to hydrogen, it is estimated that when the Solar System formed, the circumstellar disk must have had a minimum mass of around 0.01 solar masses within about 100 astronomical units of the star. (One astronomical unit is the Earth-Sun distance.) The main constituent of the disk, gaseous molecular hydrogen, does not efficiently emit radiation from the disk mass reservoir, and so the most common measure of the disk mass is dust thermal emission and lines of gaseous carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide emission generally indicates properties of the disk surface, and the conversion from dust emission to gas mass requires knowledge of the grain properties and the gas-to-dust mass ratio, which probably differ from their interstellar values. As a result, mass estimates vary by orders of magnitude, as exemplified by the relatively old (3-10 million years) star TW Hydrae, for which the range is 0.0005-0.06 solar masses. Here we report the detection of the fundamental rotational transition of hydrogen deuteride from the direction of TW Hydrae. Hydrogen deuteride is a good tracer of disk gas because it follows the distribution of molecular hydrogen and its emission is sensitive to the total mass. The detection of hydrogen deuteride, combined with existing observations and detailed models, implies a disk mass of more than 0.05 solar masses, which is enough to form a planetary system like our own.
Published: 31 January 2013
Context. Chromospheres and coronae are common phenomena on solar-type stars. Understanding the energy transfer to these heated atmospheric layers requires direct access to the relevant empirical data. Study of these structures has, by and large, been limited to the Sun thus far.

Aims. The region of the temperature reversal can be directly observed only in the far infrared and submillimetre spectral regime. We aim at determining the characteristics of the atmosphere in the region of the temperature minimum of the solar sister star alpha Cen A. As a bonus this will also provide a detailed mapping of the spectral energy distribution, i.e. knowledge that is crucial when searching for faint, Kuiper belt-like dust emission around other stars.

Methods. For the nearby binary system alpha Cen, stellar parameters are known with high accuracy from measurements. For the basic model parameters T_eff, log g and [Fe/H], we interpolate stellar model atmospheres in the grid of Gaia/PHOENIX and compute the corresponding model for the G2 V star alpha Cen A. Comparison with photometric measurements shows excellent agreement between observed photospheric data in the optical and infrared. For longer wavelengths, the modelled spectral energy distribution is compared to Spitzer-MIPS, Herschel-PACS, Herschel-SPIRE, and APEX-LABOCA photometry. A specifically tailored Uppsala model based on the MARCS code and extending further in wavelength is used to gauge the emission characteristics of alpha Cen A in the far infared.
[Abstract abbreviated due to character limitations.]

Published: 10 January 2013
We present Keck spectroscopic observations and redshifts for a sample of 767 Herschel-SPIRE selected galaxies (HSGs) at 250, 350, and 500 micron, taken with the Keck I Low Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (LRIS) and the Keck II DEep Imaging Multi-Object Spectrograph (DEIMOS). The redshift distribution of these SPIRE sources from the Herschel Multitiered Extragalactic Survey (HerMES) peaks at z=0.85, with 731 sources at z<2 and a tail of sources out to z~5. We measure more significant disagreement between photometric and spectroscopic redshifts (delta_z/(1+z)>=0.29) than is seen in non-infrared selected samples, likely due to enhanced star formation rates and dust obscuration in infrared-selected galaxies. We estimate that the vast majority (72-83%) of z<2 Herschel-selected galaxies would drop out of traditional submillimeter surveys at 0.85-1mm. We estimate the luminosity function and implied star-formation rate density contribution of HSGs at z<1.6 and find overall agreement with work based on 24micron extrapolations of the LIRG, ULIRG and total infrared contributions. This work significantly increased the number of spectroscopically confirmed infrared-luminous galaxies at z>>0 and demonstrates the growing importance of dusty starbursts for galaxy evolution studies and the build-up of stellar mass throughout cosmic time. [abridged]
Published: 04 December 2012
We present spectroscopic observations for a sample of 36 Herschel-SPIRE 250-500 micron selected galaxies (HSGs) at 22 in six extragalactic legacy fields. Observations were taken with the Keck I Low Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (LRIS) and the Keck II DEep Imaging Multi-Object Spectrograph (DEIMOS). Precise astrometry, needed for spectroscopic follow-up, is determined by identification of counterparts at 24 um or 1.4 GHz using a cross-identification likelihood matching method. Individual source luminosities range from log(LIR/LSun)=12.5-13.6 (corresponding to star formation rates 500-9000 MSun/yr, assuming a Salpeter IMF), constituting some of the most intrinsically luminous, distant infrared galaxies yet discovered. We present both individual and composite rest-frame ultraviolet spectra and infrared spectral energy distributions (SEDs). The selection of these HSGs is reproducible and well characterized across large areas of sky in contrast to most z>2 HyLIRGs in the literature which are detected serendipitously or via tailored surveys searching only for high-z HyLIRGs; therefore, we can place lower limits on the contribution of HSGs to the cosmic star formation rate density at (7+/-2)x10-3MSun/yr h3Mpc-3 at z~2.5, which is >10% of the estimated total star formation rate density (SFRD) of the Universe from optical surveys. The contribution at z~4 has a lower limit of 3x10-3MSun/yr h3Mpc-3, ~>20% of the estimated total SFRD. This highlights the importance of extremely infrared-luminous galaxies with high star formation rates to the build-up of stellar mass, even at the earliest epochs.
Published: 04 December 2012
Debris disks have been found primarily around intermediate and solar mass stars (spectral types A-K) but rarely around low mass M-type stars. We have spatially resolved a debris disk around the remarkable M3-type star GJ 581 hosting multiple planets using deep PACS images at 70, 100 and 160 micron as part of the DEBRIS Program on the Herschel Space Observatory. This is the second spatially resolved debris disk found around an M-type star, after the one surrounding the young star AU Mic (12 Myr). However, GJ 581 is much older (2-8 Gyr), and is X-ray quiet in the ROSAT data. We fit an axisymmetric model of the disk to the three PACS images and found that the best fit model is for a disk extending radially from 25 ± 12 AU to more than 60 AU. Such a cold disk is reminiscent of the Kuiper Belt but it surrounds a low mass star (0.3 MSun) and its fractional dust luminosity Ldust/L* of ~ 10-4 is much higher. The inclination limits of the disk found in our analysis make the masses of the planets small enough to ensure the long-term stability of the system according to some dynamical simulations. The disk is collisionally dominated down to submicron-sized grains and the dust cannot be expelled from the system by radiation or wind pressures because of the low luminosity and low X-ray luminosity of GJ 581. We suggest that the correlation between low-mass planets and debris disks recently found for G-type stars also applies to M-type stars. Finally, the known planets, of low masses and orbiting within 0.3 AU from the star, cannot dynamically perturb the disk over the age of the star, suggesting that an additional planet exists at larger distance that is stirring the disk to replenish the dust.
Published: 12 November 2012
Many theoretical models require powerful active galactic nuclei (AGNs) to suppress star formation in distant galaxies and reproduce the observed properties of today's massive galaxies. A recent study based on Herschel-SPIRE submillimeter observations claimed to provide direct support for this picture, reporting a significant decrease in the mean star formation rates (SFRs) of the most luminous AGNs (Lx >1044 erg s-1) at z ~ 1-3 in the Chandra Deep Field-North (CDF-N). In this Letter, we extend these results using Herschel-SPIRE 250 micron data in the COSMOS and Chandra Deep Field-South fields to achieve an order-of-magnitude improvement in the number of sources at Lx >1044 erg s-1. On the basis of our analysis, we find no strong evidence for suppressed star formation in Lx >1044 erg s-1 AGNs at z ~ 1-3. The mean SFRs of the AGNs are constant over the broad X-ray luminosity range of Lx 1043-1045 erg s-1 (with mean SFRs consistent with typical star-forming galaxies at z ~ 2; SFRs ~ 100-200 M_Sun yr-1). We suggest that the previous CDF-N results were likely due to low number statistics. We discuss our results in the context of current theoretical models.
Published: 02 November 2012
Water is a crucial molecule in molecular astrophysics as it controls much of the gas/grain chemistry, including the formation and evolution of more complex organic molecules in ices. Pre-stellar cores provide the original reservoir of material from which future planetary systems are built, but few observational constraints exist on the formation of water and its partitioning between gas and ice in the densest cores. Thanks to the high sensitivity of the Herschel Space Observatory, we report on the first detection of water vapor at high spectral resolution toward a dense cloud on the verge of star formation, the pre-stellar core L1544. The line shows an inverse P-Cygni profile, characteristic of gravitational contraction. To reproduce the observations, water vapor has to be present in the cold and dense central few thousand AU of L1544, where species heavier than helium are expected to freeze out onto dust grains, and the ortho:para H2 ratio has to be around 1:1 or larger. The observed amount of water vapor within the core (about 1.5 × 10-6 M) can be maintained by far-UV photons locally produced by the impact of galactic cosmic rays with H2 molecules. Such FUV photons irradiate the icy mantles, liberating water vapor in the core center. Our Herschel data, combined with radiative transfer and chemical/dynamical models, shed light on the interplay between gas and solids in dense interstellar clouds and provide the first measurement of the water vapor abundance profile across the parent cloud of a future solar-type star and its potential planetary system.
Published: 10 November 2012
During the first half of the universe's life, a heyday of star formation must have occurred because many massive galaxies are in place after that epoch in cosmic history. Our observations with the revolutionary Herschel Space Observatory reveal vigorous optically obscured star formation in the ultra-massive hosts of many powerful high-redshift 3C quasars and radio galaxies. This symbiotic occurrence of star formation and black hole driven activity is in marked contrast to recent results dealing with Herschel observations of X-ray-selected active galaxies. Three archetypal radio galaxies at redshifts 1.132, 1.575, and 2.474 are presented here, with inferred star formation rates of hundreds of solar masses per year. A series of spectacular coeval active galactic nucleus/starburst events may have formed these ultra-massive galaxies and their massive central black holes during their relatively short lifetimes.
Published: 15 September 2012
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