The VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey. IV. Candidates for isolated high-mass star formation in 30 Doradus

Bressert, E.; Bastian, N.; Evans, C. J.; Sana, H.; Hénault-Brunet, V.; Goodwin, S. P.; Parker, R. J.; Gieles, M.; Bestenlehner, J. M.; Vink, J. S.; Taylor, W. D.; Crowther, P. A.; Longmore, S. N.; Gräfener, G.; Maíz Apellániz, J.; de Koter, A.; Cantiello, M.; Kruijssen, J. M. D.
Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 542, id.A49, 14 pp. (2012).


Whether massive stars (≳30 Msun) can occasionally form in relative isolation (e.g. in clusters with M < 100 Msun) or if they require a large cluster of lower-mass stars around them is a key test in the differentiation of star-formation theories as well as how the initial mass function of stars is sampled. Previous attempts to find O-type stars that formed in isolation were hindered by the possibility that such stars are merely runaways from clusters, i.e., their current isolation does not reflect their birth conditions. We introduce a new method to find O-type stars that are not affected by such a degeneracy. Using the VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey and additional high resolution imaging we have identified stars that satisfy the following constraints: 1) they are O-type stars that are not detected to be part of a binary system based on radial velocity (RV) time series analysis; 2) they are designated spectral type O7 or earlier; 3) their velocities are within 1σ of the mean of OB-type stars in the 30 Doradus region, i.e. they are not runaways along our line-of-sight; 4) the projected surface density of stars does not increase within 3 pc towards the O-star (no evidence for clusters); 5) their sight lines are associated with gaseous and/or dusty filaments in the interstellar medium (ISM); and 6) if a second candidate is found in the direction of the same filament with which the target is associated, both are required to have similar velocities. With these criteria, we have identified 15 stars in the 30 Doradus region, which are strong candidates for being high-mass stars that have formed in isolation. Additionally, we employed extensive Monte Carlo stellar cluster simulations to confirm that our results rule out the presence of clusters around the candidates. Eleven of these are classified as Vz stars, possibly associated with the zero-age main sequence. We include a newly discovered Wolf-Rayet star as a candidate, although it does not meet all of the above criteria.

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