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Resolved images of a protostellar outflow driven by an extended disk wind


Young stars are associated with prominent outflows of molecular gas1,2. The ejection of gas is believed to remove angular momentum from the protostellar system, permitting young stars to grow by the accretion of material from the protostellar disk2. The underlying mechanism for outflow ejection is not yet understood2, but is believed to be closely linked to the protostellar disk3. Various models have been proposed to explain the outflows, differing mainly in the region where acceleration of material takes place: close to the protostar itself (‘X-wind’4,5, or stellar wind6), in a larger region throughout the protostellar disk (disk wind7,8,9), or at the interface between the two10. Outflow launching regions have so far been probed only by indirect extrapolation11,12,13 because of observational limits. Here we report resolved images of carbon monoxide towards the outflow associated with the TMC1A protostellar system. These data show that gas is ejected from a region extending up to a radial distance of 25 astronomical units from the central protostar, and that angular momentum is removed from an extended region of the disk. This demonstrates that the outflowing gas is launched by an extended disk wind from a Keplerian disk.

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Figure 1: 12CO channel map of the region.
Figure 2: Direct measure of the disk wind launching point.
Figure 3: Disk wind launching point, applying steady-state magnetohydrodynamic wind theory.

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We thank M. Bizzarro and L. Kristensen for suggestions that improved the paper. This research was supported by the Swedish Research Council through contract 637-2013-472 (to P.B.). M.H.D.v.d.W. and J.K.J. acknowledge support by a Lundbeck Foundation Junior Group Leader Fellowship as well as the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement number 646908) through ERC Consolidator Grant ‘S4F’. The Centre for Star and Planet Formation is funded by the Danish National Research Foundation. D.H. is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Schwerpunktprogramm (DFG SPP 1385) ‘The First 10 Million Years of the Solar System—A Planetary Materials Approach’. We also thank the staff at the Nordic ALMA Regional Centre node for assistance with the preparation and calibration of the data. D.H. thanks Leiden Observatory for providing the computing facilities. This paper makes use of ALMA data (see Methods section ‘Data availability’). ALMA is a partnership of the ESO (representing its member states), the NSF (USA) and NINS (Japan), together with the NRC (Canada), the NSC and ASIAA (Taiwan), and the KASI (South Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The Joint ALMA Observatory is operated by the ESO, AUI/NRAO and NAOJ.

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Authors and Affiliations



P.B. and M.H.D.v.d.W. led the project and were responsible for the data reduction, analysis and writing of the observing proposal and manuscript. D.H., J.P.R. and J.K.J. contributed at various stages to the data reduction and analysis, discussed the results and contributed to the proposal and manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Per Bjerkeli.

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Additional information

Reviewer Information Nature thanks Y. Aso, D. Coffey and the other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Extended data figures and tables

Extended Data Figure 1 Comparison of integrated emission for 12CO, 13CO and C18O.

Contours are from 3σ in steps of 3σ for 12CO (a) and 1σ for 13CO (b) and C18O (c). σ = 4 mJy per beam for 12CO and σ = 5 mJy per beam for 13CO and C18O. Redshifted (red) and blueshifted (blue) emission is integrated from 2.5 km s−1 to 10 km s−1 with respect to the systemic velocity. The corresponding integrated emission from the power-law disk model is shown in greyscale. RA, right ascension; Dec, declination.

Extended Data Figure 2 Position–velocity diagram for 13CO and C18O.

Velocity of 13CO (a), and C18O (b) versus position, using an inclination angle of 55°. The dashed curve is indicative of Keplerian rotation around a 0.4Msun star. The red and blue colours indicate the redshifted and blueshifted components, respectively. Error bars show the standard deviations of the Gaussian fits in position and the velocity resolution. au, astronomical units.

Extended Data Figure 3 Enhancement in dust continuum emission.

ad, Observed radial continuum brightness profile (square data points) at the four position angles indicated in the inset at top right. ‘Position’ angle 76° corresponds to the long axis of the disk on the northeastern side where the blueshifted northern outflow is launched. A Gaussian fit is overlaid as a dashed line. eh, Residual intensity after subtracting the fits shown in the left column (square points), and a Gaussian fit (dashed line) to determine the peak location of the enhancement. The grey-filled area denotes the 2σ root-mean-square noise in the continuum map.

Extended Data Figure 4 Specific angular momentum derived from the velocity field.

The colour map shows the specific angular momentum and black dashed lines show the position angle of the outflow and the disk.

Extended Data Figure 5 Inferred launching region of the disk wind.

This illustrative figure is overlaid on a three-colour background image, showing the blueshifted (blue) and redshifted (red) 12CO emission together with the continuum emission (green). The outflow emission is integrated from ±(2.5–10) km s−1 with respect to the systemic velocity 6.4 km s−1. The outlines of the disk and the outflow and the axes of the disk and the outflow are indicated with white lines. Dashed blue lines are the same as in Fig. 3.

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Bjerkeli, P., van der Wiel, M., Harsono, D. et al. Resolved images of a protostellar outflow driven by an extended disk wind. Nature 540, 406–409 (2016).

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