Author (Your Name)

Kaylea Nelson, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Senior Scholars Paper (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. Physics and Astronomy Dept.


Murray Campbell

Second Advisor

Robert Bluhm

Third Advisor

Jan Holly


In this paper we examine the current theory of high mass star formation and study a specific example. Following a brief summary of low mass star formation, we discuss the issues and theory regarding high mass star formation. We then use the Whitney Monte Carlo radiative transfer code (WMC) to model the high mass protostellar object (HMPO) IRAS 18151-1208. A model was fit to a 8.0- 13.0 μm MIRSI grism spectrum and photometric data. Since the WMC was originally written to model low mass protostars, we examined the proposition that high mass stars form by a similar process to their low mass counterparts, by modeling the HMPO. We find that the VlMC is capable of creating both an overall spectral energy distribution (SED) that fits the observational spectral and photometric data of IRAS 18151-1208 as well as images that agree well with high resolution images at three mid-infrared (mid-IR) wavelengths. Moreover, we found that an accretion disk and a high accretion rate were necessary to achieve a reasonable fit to IRAS 18151-1208. Consequently, we concluded that the WMC, and therefore current high mass star formation theory, is able to describe accurately the formation process of lRAS 18151-1208 and possibly other high mass stars. Lastly, in our investigation of the WMC, we compile a description of the effects the input parameters have on the resulting model. We hope this manual will aid in the modeling of other HMPOs.


High Mass Formation, Protostellar Objects, Whitney Monte Carlo, WMC


Full-text download restricted to Colby College campus only.