Mid-infrared interferometry of massive young stellar objects

H. Linz, Th Henning, M. Feldt, I. Pascucci, R. Van Boekel, A. Men'Shchikov, B. Stecklum, O. Chesneau, Th Ratzka, S. P. Quanz, Ch Leinert, L. B.F.M. Waters, H. Zinnecker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Context. Our knowledge of the inner structure of embedded massive young stellar objects is still quite limited. Thus, it is difficult to decide to what extent the mass accumulation onto forming massive stars differs from the process of low-mass star formation. Aims.We attempt to overcome the spatial resolution limitations of conventional thermal infrared imaging. Methods.We employed mid-infrared interferometry using the MIDI instrument on the ESO/VLTI facility to investigate M8E-IR, a well-known massive young stellar object suspected of containing a circumstellar disk. Spectrally dispersed visibilities in the 8-13 μm range have been obtained at seven interferometric baselines. Results.We resolve the mid-infrared emission of M8E-IR and find typical sizes of the emission regions of the order of 30 milliarcseconds (=45 AU). Radiative transfer simulations were performed to interpret the data. The fitting of the spectral energy distribution, in combination with the measured visibilities, does not provide evidence for an extended circumstellar disk with sizes ≳ 100 AU but requires the presence of an extended envelope. The data are not able to constrain the presence of a small-scale disk in addition to an envelope. In either case, the interferometry measurements indicate the existence of a strongly bloated, relatively cool central object, possibly tracing the recent accretion history ofM8E-IR. In addition, we present 24.5 μm images that clearly distinguish between M8EIR and the neighbouring ultracompact Hii region and which show the cometary-shaped infrared morphology of the latter source. Conclusions. Our results show that IR interferometry, combined with radiative transfer modelling, can be a viable tool to reveal crucial structure information on embedded massive young stellar objects and to resolve ambiguities arising from fitting the SED.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)655-661
Number of pages7
JournalAstronomy and astrophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2 2009


  • Radiative transfer
  • Stars: formation
  • Stars: individual: M8E-IR
  • Techniques: interferometric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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