A parsec-scale optical jet from a massive young star in the Large Magellanic Cloud

Abstract

Highly collimated parsec-scale jets, which are generally linked to the presence of an accretion disk, are commonly observed in low-mass young stellar objects1,2. In the past two decades, a few of these jets have been directly (or indirectly) observed from higher-mass (larger than eight solar masses) young stellar objects3,4,5,6,7, adding to the growing evidence that disk-mediated accretion also occurs in high-mass stars8,9,10,11, the formation mechanism of which is still poorly understood. Of the observed jets from massive young stars, none is in the optical regime (massive young stars are typically highly obscured by their natal material), and none is found outside of the Milky Way. Here we report observations of HH 1177, an optical ionized jet that originates from a massive young stellar object located in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The jet is highly collimated over its entire measured length of at least ten parsecs and has a bipolar geometry. The presence of a jet indicates ongoing, disk-mediated accretion and, together with the high degree of collimation, implies that this system is probably formed through a scaled-up version of the formation mechanism of low-mass stars. We conclude that the physics that govern jet launching and collimation is independent of stellar mass.

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Figure 1: Three-colour composites of the star-forming region LMC N180 and the jet.
Figure 2: Spectrum of the red and blue jet lobes.

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Acknowledgements

R.K. acknowledges financial support from the Emmy Noether Research Program, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) under grant number KU 2849/3-1.

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Authors

Contributions

A.F.M. is the Principal Investigator of the MUSE observing programme 096.C-0137(A), which obtained the data used in this work. A.F.M. reduced and analysed the data and wrote the initial manuscript. R.K. provided the theoretical interpretation of the data; C.J.E. analysed the stellar spectrum to determine a first spectral classification. M.R. and P.D.K. provided input concerning the young stellar object jet, pillar observations and jet mass loss rates. All authors commented on the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Anna F. McLeod.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Additional information

Reviewer Information Nature thanks A. Guzman and B. Reipurth for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Extended data figures and tables

Extended Data Figure 1 Fitted spectra of the red jet lobe.

Co-added spectra of the red lobe of the jet (extracted from a 2-pixel-radius circular aperture centred on the green circles in Fig. 2b), continuum-subtracted and fitted with a three-component Gaussian. The spectrum is shown in black, the fit in red, the single components are plotted in blue and the residuals of the fit are shown below each spectrum (the latter two are shown with an offset on the y axis for better display). The estimated noise N is stated for each spectrum. The best-fit parameters are summarized in Extended Data Table 1. The flux is in units of 10−20 erg s−1 Å−1 cm−2.

Extended Data Figure 2 Fitted spectra of the blue jet lobe.

Co-added spectra of the blue lobe of the jet (extracted from a 2-pixel-radius circular aperture centred on the green circles in Fig. 2b), continuum-subtracted and fitted with a four-component Gaussian. The spectrum is shown in black, the fit in red, the single components are plotted in blue and the residuals of the fit are shown below each spectrum (the latter two are shown with an offset on the y axis for better display). The estimated noise is stated for each spectrum. The best-fit parameters are summarized in Extended Data Table 2. The flux is in units of 10−20 erg s−1 Å−1 cm−2.

Extended Data Figure 3 Diameter of the jet body.

Black curves are the integrated line map intensity profiles along virtual slits perpendicular to the jet axis on the positions of the red (positions 1, 2 and 3) and the blue lobes (positions 5, 6 and 8) marked in Fig. 2b. Red curves are the best-fit Gaussian profiles; blue diamonds are residuals.

Extended Data Table 1 Best-fit parameters of the Gaussian fitting to the red lobe
Extended Data Table 2 Best-fit parameters of the Gaussian fitting to the blue lobe

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McLeod, A., Reiter, M., Kuiper, R. et al. A parsec-scale optical jet from a massive young star in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Nature 554, 334–336 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature25189

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