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The extraordinary outburst in the massive protostellar system NGC6334I-MM1: strong increase in mid-infrared continuum emission

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  • Embargoed (until 1/01/50)

Author(s)

T. R. Hunter, C. L. Brogan, J. M. De Buizer, A. P. M. Towner, C. D. Dowell, G. C. MacLeod, B. Stecklum, C. J. Cyganowski, S. J. El-Abd, B. A. McGuire

School/Research organisations

Abstract

In recent years, dramatic outbursts have been identified toward massive protostars via infrared and millimeter dust continuum and molecular maser emission. The longest lived outburst (>6 yr) persists in NGC6334I-MM1, a deeply-embedded object with no near-IR counterpart. Using FORCAST and HAWC+ on SOFIA, we have obtained the first mid-infrared images of this field since the outburst began. Despite being undetected in pre-outburst ground-based 18 μmimages, MM1 is now the brightest region at all three wavelengths (25, 37, and53 μm), exceeding the ultracompact HII region MM3 (NGC6334F). Combining the SOFIA data with ALMA imaging at four wavelengths, we construct a spectral energy distribution of the combination of MM1 and the nearby hot core MM2. The best-fit Robitaille radiative transfer model yields a luminosity of (4.9±0.8) × 104L⊙. Accounting for an estimated pre-outburst luminosity ratio MM1:MM2 = 2.1±0.4, the luminosity of MM1 has increased by a factor of 16.3±4.4. The pre-outburst luminosity implies a protostar of mass 6.7 M⊙, which can produce the ionizing photon rate required to power the pre-outburst hypercompact HII region surrounding the likely outbursting protostar MM1B. The total energy and duration of the outburst exceed the S255IR-NIRS3 outburst by a factor of ≳3, suggesting a different scale of event involving expansion of the protostellar photosphere (to ≳ 20 R⊙), thereby supporting a higher accretion rate (≳0.0023 M⊙ yr−1) and reducing the ionizing photon rate. In the grid of hydrodynamic models of Meyer et al. 2021, the combination of outburst luminosity and magnitude (3) places the NGC6334I-MM1 event in the region of moderate total accretion (∼0.1-0.3 M⊙) and hence long duration (∼40-130 yr).
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Original languageEnglish
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Apr 2021

    Research areas

  • Stars: formation, Stars: protostars, ISM: individual objects (NGC 6334I), Infrared: ISM, Accretion, accretion disks

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