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Published August 1, 2006 | Published
Journal Article Open

The evolution of outflow-envelope interactions in low-mass protostars


We present multiline and continuum observations of the circumstellar environment within 10to the 4th AU of a sample of protostars to investigate how the effects of outflows on their immediate environment change over time. 12CO (1–0) emission probes the high-velocity molecular outflows near the protostars and demonstrates that the outflow opening angle widens as the nascent star evolves. Maps of the 13CO (1–0) and HCO+ (1–0) outflow emission show that protostellar winds erode the circumstellar envelope through the entrainment of the outer envelope gas. The spatial and velocity distribution of the dense circumstellar envelope, as well as its mass, is traced by the C to the 18th O (1–0) emission and also displays evolutionary changes. We show that outflows are largely responsible for these changes and propose an empirical model for the evolution of outflow-envelope interactions. In addition, some of the outflows in our sample appear to affect the chemical composition of the surrounding environment, enhancing the HCO+ abundance. Overall, our results confirm that outflows play a major role in the star formation process through their strong physical and chemical impacts on the environments of the young protostars.

Additional Information

© 2006 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2005 October 21; accepted 2006 April 13. H.G.A. is supported by an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship under award AST-0401568. The Owens Valley Radio Observatory millimeter array is supported by the NSF grant AST-0228955. We are grateful to Chin-Fei Lee, Mario Tafalla, and Jennifer Hatchell for sharing their single-dish data with us.

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