Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis


Physics and Astronomy

Degree Program

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Keywords

Astronomy; Astrophysics; Star formation; Dense cores; Molecular clouds


The standard model of prestellar core collapse suggests that this process works from the inside and moves outwards, with the fastest motions at the center. The relative abundances of many molecules also vary within cores, with certain molecules found only in specific regions characterized by narrow ranges of temperature and density. These characteristics lead to the hypothesis that the observed infall speeds in starless cores depend on both the position of the observations and the molecular tracer chosen. By measuring line emission at multiple positions across a core using an array of tracer molecules, one can determine whether these theoretical dependencies match observational evidence. Although surveys have been awarded enough time to map infall across cores using multiple spectral line observations. To fill this gap, we present IRAM 30m maps of N2H+(1-0), DCO+(2-1), DCO+(3-2) and HCO+(3-2) emission towards two prestellar cores (L1544 and L694) and one protostellar core (L1521F). We find that the measured infall velocity varies as a function of position across each core and varies with the choice of molecular line, likely as a result of radical variations in core chemistry and dynamics.