The Initial Conditions of Stellar Protocluster Formation : III. The Herschel counterparts of the Spitzer Dark Cloud catalogue
Fuller, G. A.
Thompson, M. A.
Galactic plane surveys of pristine molecular clouds are key for establishing a Galactic-scale view of the earliest stages of star formation. For this reason Peretto & Fuller (2009) built an unbiased sample of IRDCs in the 10 deg |b|~18 resolution using the 160micron and 250micron data from the Herschel Galactic plane survey Hi-GAL. We also developed an automated detection scheme that confirms the existence of a SDC through its association with a peak on these Herschel column density maps. Detection simulations, along with visual inspection of a small sub-sample of SDCs, have been performed to get better insight into the limitations of our automated identification scheme. Our analysis shows that 76(+/-19)% of the catalogued SDCs are real. This fraction drops to 55(+/-12)% for clouds with angular diameters larger than ~1 arcminute. The contamination of the PF09 catalogue by large spurious sources reflect the large uncertainties associated to the construction of the 8micron background emission, a key stage towards the identification of SDCs. A comparison of the Herschel confirmed SDC sample with the BGPS and ATLASGAL samples shows that SDCs probe a unique range of cloud properties, reaching down to more compact and lower column density clouds than any of these two (sub-)millimetre Galactic plane surveys.