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Publication archive

This paper describes Herschel observations of the nearby (8.5 pc) G5V multi-exoplanet host star 61 Vir at 70, 100, 160, 250, 350 and 500 micron carried out as part of the DEBRIS survey. These observations reveal emission that is significantly extended out to a distance of >15 arcsec with a morphology that can be fitted by a nearly edge-on (77° inclination) radially broad (from 30 AU out to at least 100 AU) debris disc of fractional luminosity 2.7 × 10-5, with two additional (presumably unrelated) sources nearby that become more prominent at longer wavelengths. Chance alignment with a background object seen at 1.4 GHz provides potential for confusion, however, the star's 1.4 arcsec/yr proper motion allows archival Spitzer 70 m images to confirm that what we are interpreting as disc emission really is circumstellar. Although the exact shape of the disc's inner edge is not well constrained, the region inside 30 AU must be significantly depleted in planetesimals. This is readily explained if there are additional planets outside those already known (i.e. in the 0.5-30 AU region), but is also consistent with collisional erosion. We also find tentative evidence that the presence of detectable debris around nearby stars correlates with the presence of the lowest mass planets that are detectable in current radial velocity surveys. Out of an unbiased sample of the nearest 60 G stars, 11 are known to have planets, of which six (including 61 Vir) have planets that are all less massive than Saturn, and four of these have evidence for debris. The debris towards one of these planet hosts (HD 20794) is reported here for the first time ... [Abstract abbreviated due to character limitations.]
Published: 02 July 2012
Stars form with gaseous and dusty circumstellar envelopes, which rapidly settle into disks that eventually give rise to planetary systems. Understanding the process by which these disks evolve is paramount in developing an accurate theory of planet formation that can account for the variety of planetary systems discovered so far. The formation of Earth-like planets through collisional accumulation of rocky objects within a disk has mainly been explored in theoretical and computational work in which post-collision ejecta evolution typically is ignored although recent work has considered the fate of such material. Here we report observations of a young, Sun-like star (TYC 8241 2652 1) where infrared flux from post-collisional ejecta has decreased drastically, by a factor of about 30, over a period of less than two years. The star seems to have gone from hosting substantial quantities of dusty ejecta, in a region analogous to where the rocky planets orbit in the Solar System, to retaining at most a meagre amount of cooler dust. Such a phase of rapid ejecta evolution has not been previously predicted or observed, and no currently available physical model satisfactorily explains the observations.
Published: 06 July 2012
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.]
Published: 15 May 2012
Published online 9 May 2012

The old, red stars that constitute the bulges of galaxies, and the massive black holes at their centres, are the relics of a period in cosmic history when galaxies formed stars at remarkable rates and active galactic nuclei (AGN) shone brightly as a result of accretion onto black holes. It is widely suspected, but unproved, that the tight correlation between the mass of the black hole and the mass of the stellar bulge results from the AGN quenching the surrounding star formation as it approaches its peak luminosity. X-rays trace emission from AGN unambiguously, whereas powerful star-forming galaxies are usually dust-obscured and are brightest at infrared and submillimetre wavelengths. Here we report submillimetre and X-ray observations that show that rapid star formation was common in the host galaxies of AGN when the Universe was 2-6 billion years old, but that the most vigorous star formation is not observed around black holes above an X-ray luminosity of 1044 ergs per second. This suppression of star formation in the host galaxy of a powerful AGN is a key prediction of models in which the AGN drives an outflow, expelling the interstellar medium of its host and transforming the galaxy's properties in a brief period of cosmic time.

Published: 11 May 2012
Context. Fomalhaut is a young (2 ± 1 × 108 years), nearby (7.7 pc), 2 MSun star that is suspected to harbor an infant planetary system, interspersed with one or more belts of dusty debris.
Aims. We present far-infrared images obtained with the Herschel Space Observatory with an angular resolution between 5.7" and 36.7" at wavelengths between 70 um and 500 um. The images show the main debris belt in great detail. Even at high spatial resolution, the belt appears smooth. The region in between the belt and the central star is not devoid of material; thermal emission is observed here as well. Also at the location of the star, excess emission is detected. We aim to construct a consistent image of the Fomalhaut system.
Methods. We use a dynamical model together with radiative-transfer tools to derive the parameters of the debris disk. We include detailed models of the interaction of the dust grains with radiation, for both the radiation pressure and the temperature determination. Comparing these models to the spatially resolved temperature information contained in the images allows us to place strong constraints on the presence of grains that will be blown out of the system by radiation pressure. We use this to derive the dynamical parameters of the system.
Results. The appearance of the belt points toward a remarkably active system in which dust grains are produced at a very high rate by a collisional cascade in a narrow region filled with dynamically excited planetesimals. Dust particles with sizes below the blow-out size are abundantly present.
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Published: 12 April 2012
We present photometry of the nearby galaxy NGC 5128 (Centaurus A) observed with the Photodetector Array Camera and Spectrometer (PACS) and Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE) instruments on board the Herschel Space Observatory, at 70, 160, 250, 350 and 500 micron, as well as new CO J=3-2 observations taken with the HARP-B instrument on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT). Using a single-component modified blackbody, we model the dust spectral energy distribution within the disc of the galaxy using all five Herschel wavebands and find dust temperatures of ~30 K towards the centre of the disc and a smoothly decreasing trend to ~20 K with increasing radius. We find a total dust mass of (1.59 ± 0.05) × 107 MSun and a total gas mass of (2.7 ± 0.2) × 109 MSun. The average gas-to-dust mass ratio is 103 ± 8, but we find an interesting increase in this ratio to approximately 275 towards the centre of Cen A. We discuss several possible physical processes that may be causing this effect, including dust sputtering, jet entrainment and systematic variables such as the XCO factor. Dust sputtering by X-rays originating in the active galactic nucleus or the removal of dust by the jets is our most favoured explanation.

Published online on 27 March 2012, to appear in forthcoming issue of MNRAS
Published: 28 March 2012
We present the first results of a multiwavelength survey, incorporating Herschel-inline image, Spitzer, GALEX and Australian Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) observations, of a 1° × 1° field centred on Centaurus A. As well as detecting the inner lobes of the active galactic nucleus (AGN) jet and counterjet, we have found two clouds, bright at submillimetre wavelengths, ~15 kpc from the centre of Cen A that are co-aligned with the jets. Flux measurements at Herschel wavelengths have proved vital in constraining fits to the spectral energy distributions (SEDs). The clouds are well fitted by a single-temperature, modified blackbody spectrum (beta=2) indicating that we are looking at two cold dust clouds on the outskirts of Cen A. The temperature and masses of the clouds are T_north=12.6(+1.1, -1.2) K, T_south=15.1(+1.7, -1.6) K; log(M_north/M_Sun)=5.8(+0.2, -0.2); log(M_south/M_Sun)=5.6(+0.2, -0.2) and the gas-dust ratio for both clouds is ~100. The measured values for the northern dust cloud are consistent with previous measurements from ISO while the southern cloud is a new submillimetre detection. The two dust clouds are located at the termini of the partial HI ring that surrounds Cen A which is also where the gas column density peaks. The Herschel survey encompasses the partial HI ring yet we find no evidence of dust emission in any other part of the ring. Assuming that the gas-dust ratio is the same in the rest of the ring, dust mass upper limits in the HI ring are consistent with low column density dust being present but falling below the SPIRE detection limit. We have discussed the origin of these clouds and various possible heating mechanisms. The observations favour a scenario in which the gas and dust were once part of a late-type galaxy, which has since merged with Cen A. The dominant heating mechanism which adequately explains the observed temperatures in both clouds is heating from the evolved stellar population within Cen A.
Published: 15 March 2012
Aims: As part of the Herschel guaranteed time key programme "HOBYS", we present the PACS and SPIRE photometric survey of the star-forming region Vela-C, one of the nearest sites of low-to-high-mass star formation in the Galactic plane. Our main objectives are to take a census of the cold sources and to derive their mass distribution down to a few solar masses.
Methods: Vela-C was observed with PACS and SPIRE in parallel mode at five wavelengths between 70 micron and 500 micron over an area of about 3 square degrees. A photometric catalogue was extracted from the detections in each of the five bands, using a threshold of 5sigma over the local background. Out of this catalogue we selected a robust sub-sample of 268 sources, of which ~75 per cent are cloud clumps (diameter between 0.05 pc and 0.13 pc) and 25 per cent are cores (diameter between 0.025 pc and 0.05 pc). Their spectral energy distributions (SEDs) were fitted with a modified black body function. We classify 48 sources as protostellar, based on their detection at 70 um or at shorther wavelengths, and 218 as starless, because of non-detections at 70 micron. For two other sources, we do not provide a secure classification, but suggest they are Class 0 protostars.
Results: From the SED fitting we derived key physical parameters (i.e. mass, temperature, bolometric luminosity). Protostellar sources are in general warmer (< T > = 12.8 K) and more compact (< diameter > = 0.040 pc) than starless sources (< T > = 10.3 K, < diameter > = 0.067 pc). Both these findings can be ascribed to the presence of an internal source(s) of moderate heating, which also causes a temperature gradient and hence a more peaked intensity distribution. Moreover, the reduced dimensions of protostellar sources may indicate that they will not fragment further.
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Published: 12 March 2012
We present Herschel/SPIRE observations for the 2MASS 1207334-393254 (2M1207) system. Based on radiative transfer modelling of near-infrared to submillimetre data, we estimate a disc mass of 3 ± 2 MJup and an outer disc radius of 50-100 AU for the 2M1207A disc. The relative disc mass for 2M1207A is similar to the T Tauri star TW Hya, which indicates that massive discs are not underabundant around substellar objects. In probing the various formation mechanisms for this system, we find that core accretion is highly uncertain mainly due to the large separation between the primary and the companion. Disc fragmentation could be a likely scenario based on analytical models, and if the disc initially was more massive than its current estimate. Considering that the TW Hydrae Association (TWA) is sparsely populated, this system could have formed via one of the known binary formation mechanisms (e.g. turbulent fragmentation of a core) and survived disruption at an early stage.
Published: 21 February 2012
Icy bodies may have delivered the oceans to the early Earth, yet little is known about water in the ice-dominated regions of extrasolar planet-forming disks. The Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared on board the Herschel Space Observatory has detected emission lines from both spin isomers of cold water vapor from the disk around the young star TW Hydrae. This water vapor likely originates from ice-coated solids near the disk surface, hinting at a water ice reservoir equivalent to several thousand Earth Oceans in mass. The water's ortho-to-para ratio falls well below that of solar system comets, suggesting that comets contain heterogeneous ice mixtures collected across the entire solar nebula during the early stages of planetary birth.
Published: 22 October 2011

Published online on 5 October 2011.

For decades, the source of Earth's volatiles, especially water with a deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio (D/H) of (1.558±0.001)×10-4, has been a subject of debate. The similarity of Earth's bulk composition to that of meteorites known as enstatite chondrites suggests a dry proto-Earth with subsequent delivery of volatiles via local accretion or impacts of asteroids or comets. Previous measurements in six comets from the Oort cloud yielded a mean D/H ratio of (2.96±0.25)×10-4. The D/H value in carbonaceous chondrites, (1.4±0.1)×10-4, together with dynamical simulations, led to models in which asteroids were the main source of Earth's water, with <10 per cent being delivered by comets. Here we report that the D/H ratio in the Jupiter-family comet 103P/Hartley 2, which originated in the Kuiper belt, is (1.61±0.24)×10-4. This result substantially expands the reservoir of Earth ocean-like water to include some comets, and is consistent with the emerging picture of a complex dynamical evolution of the early Solar System.

Published: 14 October 2011
Published online on 2 Sept 2011.
Two main modes of star formation are know to control the growth of galaxies: a relatively steady one in disk-like galaxies, defining a tight star formation rate (SFR)-stellar mass sequence, and a starburst mode in outliers to such a sequence which is generally interpreted as driven by merging. Such starburst galaxies are rare but have much higher SFRs, and it is of interest to establish the relative importance of these two modes. PACS/Herschel observations over the whole COSMOS and GOODS-South fields, in conjunction with previous optical/near-IR data, have allowed us to accurately quantify for the first time the relative contribution of the two modes to the global SFR density in the redshift interval 1.5 < z < 2.5, i.e., at the cosmic peak of the star formation activity. The logarithmic distributions of galaxy SFRs at fixed stellar mass are well described by Gaussians, with starburst galaxies representing only a relatively minor deviation that becomes apparent for SFRs more than 4 times higher than on the main sequence. Such starburst galaxies represent only 2% of mass-selected star forming galaxies and account for only 10% of the cosmic SFR density at z~2. Only when limited to SFR> 1000MSun/yr, off-sequence sources significantly contribute to the SFR density (46±20%). We conclude that merger-driven starbursts play a relatively minor role for the formation of stars in galaxies, whereas they may represent a critical phase towards the quenching of star formation and morphological transformation in galaxies.
Published: 02 September 2011
We present the deepest 100 to 500 micron far-infrared observations obtained with the Herschel Space Observatory as part of the GOODS-Herschel key program, and examine the infrared (IR) 3-500 micron spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of galaxies at 0 < z < 2.5, supplemented by a local reference sample from IRAS, ISO, Spitzer and AKARI data. We determine the projected star formation densities of local galaxies from their radio and mid-IR continuum sizes. We find that the ratio of total IR luminosity to rest-frame 8 micron luminosity, IR8 (=LtotIR/L8), follows a Gaussian distribution centered on IR8=4 (sigma=1.6) and defines an IR main sequence for star-forming galaxies independent of redshift and luminosity. Outliers from this main sequence produce a tail skewed toward higher values of IR8. This minority population (<20%) is shown to consist of starbursts with compact projected star formation densities. IR8 can be used to separate galaxies with normal and extended modes of star formation from compact starbursts with high-IR8, high projected IR surface brightness (SigmaIR>3×1010 LSunkpc-2) and a high specific star formation rate (i.e., starbursts). The rest-frame, UV-2700 Angstrom size of these distant starbursts is typically half that of main sequence galaxies, supporting the correlation between star formation density and starburst activity that is measured for the local sample.
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Published: 14 September 2011
We present the first Herschel PACS and SPIRE results of the Vela C molecular complex in the far-infrared and submillimetre regimes at 70, 160, 250, 350, and 500 micron, spanning the peak of emission of cold prestellar or protostellar cores. Column density and multi-resolution analysis (MRA) differentiates the Vela C complex into five distinct sub-regions. Each sub-region displays differences in their column density and temperature probability distribution functions (PDFs), in particular, the PDFs of the "Centre-Ridge" and "South-Nest" sub-regions appear in stark contrast to each other. The Centre-Ridge displays a bimodal temperature PDF representative of hot gas surrounding the HII region RCW 36 and the cold neighbouring filaments, whilst the South-Nest is dominated by cold filamentary structure. The column density PDF of the Centre-Ridge is flatter than the South-Nest, with a high column density tail, consistent with formation through large-scale flows, and regulation by self-gravity. At small to intermediate scales MRA indicates the Centre-Ridge to be twice as concentrated as the South-Nest, whilst on larger scales, a greater portion of the gas in the South-Nest is dominated by turbulence than in the Centre-Ridge. In Vela C, high-mass stars appear to be preferentially forming in ridges, i.e., dominant high column density filaments.
Published: 08 September 2011
We present new Herschel/PACS images at 70, 100, and 160 micron of the well-known, nearby, carbon-rich asymptotic giant branch star IRC+10216 revealing multiple dust shells in its circumstellar envelope. For the first time, dust shells (or arcs) are detected until 320". The almost spherical shells are non-concentric and have an angular extent between ~40° and ~200°. The shells have a typical width of 5"-8", and the shell separation varies in the range of ~10"-35", corresponding to ~500 -1700 yr. Local density variations within one arc are visible. The shell/intershell density contrast is typically ~4, and the arcs contain some 50% more dust mass than the smooth envelope. The observed (nested) arcs record the mass-loss history over the past 16 000 yr, but Rayleigh-Taylor and Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities in the turbulent astropause and astrosheath will erase any signature of the mass-loss history for at least the first 200 000 yr of mass loss. Accounting for the bowshock structure, the envelope mass around IRC+10216 contains >2 solar masses of gas and dust mass. It is argued that the origin of the shells is related to non-isotropic mass-loss events and clumpy dust formation.
Published: 21 September 2011
Published online in Science Express, 7 July 2011. We report far-infrared and submillimeter observations of Supernova 1987A, the star that exploded on 23 February 1987 in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a galaxy located 160 000 light years away. The observations reveal the presence of a population of cold dust grains radiating with a temperature of about 17 to 23 K at a rate of about 220 LSun. The intensity and spectral energy distribution of the emission suggests a dust mass of about 0.4 to 0.7 MSun. The radiation must originate from the supernova ejecta and requires the efficient precipitation of all refractory material into dust. Our observations imply that supernovae can produce the large dust masses detected in young galaxies at very high redshifts.
Published: 03 September 2011
We report observations of three rotational transitions of molecular oxygen (O2) in emission from the H2 Peak 1 position of vibrationally excited molecular hydrogen in Orion. We observed the 487 GHz, 774 GHz, and 1121 GHz lines using HIFI on the Herschel Space Observatory, having velocities of 11 km s-1 to 12 km s-1 and widths of 3 km s-1. The beam-averaged column density is N(O2) = 6.5×1016 cm-2, and assuming that the source has an equal beam filling factor for all transitions (beam widths 44, 28, and 19'), the relative line intensities imply a kinetic temperature between 65 K and 120 K. The fractional abundance of O2 relative to H2 is 0.3-7.3×10-6. The unusual velocity suggests an association with a ~5' diameter source, denoted Peak A, the Western Clump, or MF4. The mass of this source is ~10 MSun and the dust temperature is >= 150 K. Our preferred explanation of the enhanced O2 abundance is that dust grains in this region are sufficiently warm (T >= 100 K) to desorb water ice and thus keep a significant fraction of elemental oxygen in the gas phase, with a significant fraction as O2. For this small source, the line ratios require a temperature >= 180 K. The inferred O2 column density ~5×1018 cm-2 can be produced in Peak A, having N(H2) ~4×1024 cm-2. An alternative mechanism is a low-velocity (10 to 15 km s-1) C-shock, which can produce N(O2) up to 1017 cm-2.
Published: 02 July 2011
Cryovolcanic activity near the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus produces plumes of H2O-dominated gases and ice particles, which escape and populate a torus-shaped cloud. Using submillimeter spectroscopy with Herschel, we report the direct detection of the Enceladus water vapor torus in four rotational lines of water at 557, 987, 1113, and 1670 GHz, and probe its physical conditions and structure. We determine line-of-sight H2O column densities of ~4 × 1013 cm-2 near the equatorial plane, with a ~50 000 km vertical scale height. The water torus appears to be rotationally cold (e.g. an excitation temperature of 16 K is measured for the 1113 GHz line) but dynamically excited, with non-Keplerian dispersion velocities of ~2 kms-1, and appears to be largely shaped by molecular collisions. From estimates of the influx rates of torus material into Saturn and Titan, we infer that Enceladus' activity is likely to be the ultimate source of water in the upper atmosphere of Saturn, but not in Titan's.
Published: 15 July 2011
Mass outflows driven by stars and active galactic nuclei are a key element in many current models of galaxy evolution. They may produce the observed black hole-galaxy mass relation and regulate and quench both star formation in the host galaxy and black hole accretion. However, observational evidence of such feedback processes through outflows of the bulk of the star forming molecular gas is still scarce. Here we report the detection of massive molecular outflows, traced by the hydroxyl molecule (OH), in far-infrared spectra of ULIRGs obtained with Herschel-PACS as part of the SHINING key project. In some of these objects the (terminal) outflow velocities exceed 1000 km/s, and their outflow rates (up to ~1200 MSun/yr) are several times larger than their star formation rates. We compare the outflow signatures in different types of ULIRGs and in starburst galaxies to address the issue of the energy source (AGN or starburst) of these outflows. We report preliminary evidence that ULIRGs with a higher AGN luminosity (and higher AGN contribution to LIR) have higher terminal velocities and shorter gas depletion time scales. The outflows in the observed ULIRGs are able to expel the cold gas reservoirs from the centres of these objects within ~106-108 years.
Published: 05 May 2011
We provide a first look at the results of the Herschel Gould Belt survey toward the IC 5146 molecular cloud and present a preliminary analysis of the filamentary structure in this region. The column density map, derived from our 70-500 micron Herschel data, reveals a complex network of filaments and confirms that these filaments are the main birth sites of prestellar cores. We analyze the column density profiles of 27 filaments and show that the underlying radial density profiles fall off as r-1.5 to r-2.5 at large radii. Our main result is that the filaments seem to be characterized by a narrow distribution of widths with a median value of 0.10 ± 0.03 pc, which is in stark contrast to a much broader distribution of central Jeans lengths. This characteristic width of ~0.1 pc corresponds to within a factor of ~2 to the sonic scale below which interstellar turbulence becomes subsonic in diffuse gas, which supports the argument that the filaments may form as a result of the dissipation of large-scale turbulence.
Published: 14 April 2011
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