Our search for the earliest stages of massive star formation turned up 12 massive pre-protocluster candidates plus a few protoclusters. For this search, we selected 47 FIR-bright IRAS sources in the outer Galaxy. We mapped regions of several square arcminutes around the IRAS source in the millimeter continuum in order to find massive cold cloud cores possibly being in a very early stage of massive star formation. Masses and densities are derived for the 128 molecular cloud cores found in the obtained maps. We present these maps together with near-infrared, mid-infrared, and radio data collected from the 2MASS, MSX, and NVSS catalogs. Further data from the literature on detections of high-density tracers, outflows, and masers are added. The multiwavelength data sets are used to characterize each observed region. The massive cloud cores (M > 100 M ⊙) are placed in a tentative evolutionary sequence depending on their emission at the investigated wavelengths. Candidates for the youngest stages of massive star formation are identified by the lack of detections in the above-mentioned near-infrared, mid-infrared, and radio surveys. Twelve massive cores prominent in the millimeter continuum fulfill this requirement. Since neither FIR nor radio emission have been detected from these cloud cores, massive protostars must be very deeply embedded in these cores. Some of these objects may actually be pre-protocluster cores: an up to now rare object class, where the initial conditions of massive star formation can be studied.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science