Spectral energy distribution modelling of southern candidate massive protostars using the Bayesian inference method

T. Hill, C. Pinte, V. Minier, M. G. Burton, M. R. Cunningham

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Concatenating data from the millimetre regime to the infrared, we have performed spectral energy distribution (SED) modelling for 227 of the 405 millimetre continuum sources of Hill et al. which are thought to contain young massive stars in the earliest stages of their formation. Three main parameters are extracted from the fits: temperature, mass and luminosity. The method employed was the Bayesian inference, which allows a statistically probable range of suitable values for each parameter to be drawn for each individual protostellar candidate. This is the first application of this method to massive star formation. The cumulative distribution plots of the SED modelled parameters in this work indicate that collectively, the sources without methanol maser and/or radio continuum associations (MM-only cores) display similar characteristics to those of high-mass star formation regions. Attributing significance to the marginal distinctions between the MM-only cores and the high-mass star formation sample, we draw hypotheses regarding the nature of the MM-only cores, including the possibility that the population itself comprises different types of source, and discuss their role in the formation scenarios of massive star formation. In addition, we discuss the usefulness and limitations of SED modelling and its application to the field. From this work, it is clear that within the valid parameter ranges, SEDs utilising current far-infrared data cannot be used to determine the evolution of massive protostars or massive young stellar objects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)768-782
Number of pages15
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • H ii regions
  • Masers
  • Stars: early-type
  • Stars: formation
  • Stars: fundamental parameters
  • Submillimetre

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