From molecular cores to planet-forming disks: An SIRTF legacy program

Neal J. Evans, Lori E. Allen, Geoffrey A. Blake, A. C.A. Boogert, Tyler Bourke, Paul M. Harvey, J. E. Kessler, David W. Koerner, Chang Won Lee, Lee G. Mundy, Philip C. Myers, Deborah L. Padgett, K. Pontoppidan, Anneila I. Sargent, Karl R. Stapelfeldt, Ewine F. Van Dishoeck, Chadwick H. Young, Kaisa E. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

414 Scopus citations


Crucial steps in the formation of stars and planets can be studied only at mid- to far-infrared wavelengths, where the Space Infrared Telescope (SIRTF) provides an unprecedented improvement in sensitivity. We will use all three SIRTF instruments (Infrared Array Camera [IRAC], Multiband Imaging Photometer for SIRTF [MIPS], and Infrared Spectrograph [IRS]) to observe sources that span the evolutionary sequence from molecular cores to protoplanetary disks, encompassing a wide range of cloud masses, stellar masses, and star-forming environments. In addition to targeting about 150 known compact cores, we will survey with IRAC and MIPS (3.6-70 μm) the entire areas of five of the nearest large molecular clouds for new candidate protostars and substellar objects as faint as 0.001 solar luminosities. We will also observe with IRAC and MIPS about 190 systems likely to be in the early stages of planetary system formation (ages up to about 10 Myr), probing the evolution of the circumstellar dust, the raw material for planetary cores. Candidate planet-forming disks as small as 0.1 lunar masses will be detectable. Spectroscopy with IRS of new objects found in the surveys and of a select group of known objects will add vital information on the changing chemical and physical conditions in the disks and envelopes. The resulting data products will include catalogs of thousands of previously unknown sources, multiwavelength maps of about 20 deg2 of molecular clouds, photometry of about 190 known young stars, spectra of at least 170 sources, ancillary data from ground-based telescopes, and new tools for analysis and modeling. These products will constitute the foundations for many follow-up studies with ground-based telescopes, as well as with SIRTF itself and other space missions such as SIM, JWST, Herschel, and TPF/Darwin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)965-980
Number of pages16
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Issue number810
StatePublished - Aug 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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