Discovery of a mid-infrared protostellar outburst of exceptional amplitude

P. W. Lucas, Jay Elias, Sean Points, Z. Guo, B. Stecklum, E. Vorobyov, C. Morris, J. Borissova, R. Kurtev, C. Contreras Pena, N. Medina, D. Minniti, V. D. Ivanov, R. K. Saito

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We report the discovery of a mid-infrared outburst in a Young Stellar Object (YSO) with an amplitude close to 8 mag at lambda ~ 4.6 microns. WISEA J142238.82-611553.7 is one of 23 highly variable WISE sources discovered in a search of Infrared Dark Clouds (IRDCs). It lies within the small IRDC G313.671-0.309 (d~2.6 kpc), seen by the Herschel/HiGal survey as a compact, massive cloud core that may have been measurably warmed by the event. Pre-outburst data from Spitzer in 2004 suggest that it is a class I YSO, a view supported by observation of weak 2.12 micron H_2 emission in an otherwise featureless red continuum spectrum taken in 2019 (6 mag below the peak in Ks). Spitzer, WISE and VVV data indicate that the outburst began by 2006 and has a duration >13 yr, with a fairly flat peak from 2010--2014. The outburst luminosity of a few x 102 Lsun is consistent with an accretion rate Mdot 10-4 Msun/yr, comparable to a classical FU Orionis event. The 4.6 micron peak in 2010 implies T = 800-1000 K and a disc radial location R~4.5 au for the emitting region. The colour evolution suggests subsequent progression outward. The apparent absence of the hotter matter expected in thermal instability or MRI models may be due to complete obscuration of the innermost disc, e.g. by an edge-on disc view. Alternatively, disc fragmentation/infalling fragment models might more naturally explain a mid-infrared peak, though this is not yet clear.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberstaa2915
Number of pages19
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sept 2020


  • astro-ph.SR
  • astro-ph.GA


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