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We present Herschel SPIRE and PACS maps of the Cepheus Flare clouds L1157, L1172, L1228, L1241, and L1251, observed by the Herschel Gould Belt Survey of nearby star-forming molecular clouds. Through modified blackbody fits to the SPIRE and PACS data, we determine typical cloud column densities of (0.5–1.0) × 1021 cm−2 and typical cloud temperatures of 14–15 K. Using the getsources identification algorithm, we extract 832 dense cores from the SPIRE and PACS data at 160–500 μm. From placement in a mass versus size diagram, we consider 303 to be candidate prestellar cores, and 178 of these to be "robust" prestellar cores. From an independent extraction of sources at 70 μm, we consider 25 of the 832 dense cores to be protostellar. The distribution of background column densities coincident with candidate prestellar cores peaks at (2–4) × 1021 cm−2. About half of the candidate prestellar cores in Cepheus may have formed as a result of the widespread fragmentation expected to occur within filaments of "transcritical" line mass. The lognormal robust prestellar core mass function (CMF) drawn from all five Cepheus clouds peaks at 0.56 M and has a width of ~0.5 dex, similar to that of Aquila's CMF. Indeed, the width of Cepheus's aggregate CMF is similar to the stellar system initial mass function (IMF). The similarity of CMF widths in different clouds and the system IMF suggests a common, possibly turbulent origin for seeding the fluctuations that evolve into prestellar cores and stars.


This article was originally published Open Access in The Astrophysical Journal. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.


The Astrophysical Journal

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


© 2020. The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society.