The balloon-borne large aperture submillimeter telescope (BLAST) 2005: A 10 deg2 survey of star formation in Cygnus X

Arabindo Roy, Peter A.R. Ade, James J. Bock, Edward L. Chapin, Mark J. Devlin, Simon R. Dicker, Kevin France, Andrew G. Gibb, Matthew Griffin, Joshua O. Gundersen, Mark Halpern, Peter C. Hargrave, David H. Hughes, Jeff Klein, Gaelen Marsden, Peter G. Martin, Philip Mauskopf, Jorge L.Morales Ortiz, Calvin B. Netterfield, Alberto Noriega-CrespoLuca Olmi, Guillaume Patanchon, Marie Rex, Douglas Scott, Christopher Semisch, Matthew D.P. Truch, Carole Tucker, Gregory S. Tucker, Marco P. Viero, Donald V. Wiebe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We present Cygnus X in a new multi-wavelength perspective based on an unbiased BLAST survey at 250, 350, and 500 μm, combined with rich data sets for this well-studied region. Our primary goal is to investigate the early stages of high-mass star formation. We have detected 184 compact sources in various stages of evolution across all three BLAST bands. From their well-constrained spectral energy distributions, we obtain the physical properties mass, surface density, bolometric luminosity, and dust temperature. Some of the bright sources reaching 40 K contain well-known compact H ii regions. We relate these to other sources at earlier stages of evolution via the energetics as deduced from their position in the luminosity-mass (L-M) diagram. The BLAST spectral coverage, near the peak of the spectral energy distribution of the dust, reveals fainter sources too cool (∼10 K) to be seen by earlier shorter-wavelength surveys like IRAS. We detect thermal emission from infrared dark clouds and investigate the phenomenon of cold "starless cores" more generally. Spitzer images of these cold sources often show stellar nurseries, but these potential sites for massive star formation are "starless" in the sense that to date there is no massive protostar in a vigorous accretion phase. We discuss evolution in the context of the L-M diagram. Theory raises some interesting possibilities: some cold massive compact sources might never form a cluster containing massive stars, and clusters with massive stars might not have an identifiable compact cold massive precursor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Balloons
  • ISM: clouds
  • Stars: formation
  • Stars: massive
  • Submillimeter: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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