Numerous proplyd candidates in the harsh environment of the Carina Nebula

Nathan Smith, John Bally, Jon A. Morse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


We report the discovery of dozens of compact objects in the Carina Nebula (NGC 3372) that closely resemble proplyds (photoablating protoplanetary disks and dark silhouette disks) seen previously in the Orion Nebula. This is the first detection of a large number of such objects outside Orion. They imply that low- and intermediate-mass star formation is proceeding actively in Carina, despite threatening conditions imposed by very hot massive stars. The proplyd candidates that we have detected are larger than those in Orion but more compact than irregular molecular globules within the H II region. Smaller proplyds may still be lurking in Carina, waiting to be discovered. Orion apparently lacks objects of comparable size, and we consider several explanations. Larger proplyds may come from larger and more massive circumstellar disks surrounding young Herbig Ae/Be stars that should be numerous in Carina. Alternatively, far-UV radiation from the massive star η Car may have, in the recent past, enhanced photoablation and expanded proplyd ionization fronts. Some unusual proplyd candidates may also imply that time-dependent effects associated with η Car's current evolutionary state may be critical.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L105-L108
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 II
StatePublished - Apr 20 2003


  • H II regions
  • ISM: globules
  • ISM: individual (NGC 3372)
  • ISM: jets and outflows
  • Planetary systems: protoplanetary disks
  • Stars: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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