Clustering properties of far-infrared sources in Hi-Gal science demonstation phase fields
Stringfellow, G. S.
We use a minimum spanning tree (MST) algorithm to characterize the spatial distribution of Galactic far-IR sources and derive their clustering properties. We aim to reveal the spatial imprint of different types of star-forming processes, e. g., isolated spontaneous fragmentation of dense molecular clouds, or events of triggered star formation around H II regions, and highlight global properties of star formation in the Galaxy. We plan to exploit the entire Herschel infrared GALactic (Hi-GAL) survey of the inner Galactic plane to gather significant statistics on the clustering properties of star-forming regions and to look for possible correlations with source properties such as mass, temperature, or evolutionary stage. In this paper, we present a pilot study based on the two 2 degrees x 2 degrees fields centered at longitudes l = 30 degrees and l = 59 degrees obtained during the science demonstration phase of the Herschel mission. We find that over half of the clustered sources are associated with H II regions and infrared dark clouds. Our analysis also reveals a smooth chromatic evolution of the spatial distribution where sources detected at short wavelengths, likely protostars surrounded by warm circumstellar material emitting in the far-infrared, tend to be clustered in dense and compact groups around H II regions while sources detected at long wavelengths, presumably cold and dusty density enhancements of the ISM emitting in the submillimeter, are distributed in larger and looser groups.