The Luminosities Of Protostars In The Spitzer c2d And Gould Belt Legacy Clouds
Motivated by the long-standing >luminosity problem> in low-mass star formation whereby protostars are underluminous compared to theoretical expectations, we identify 230 protostars in 18 molecular clouds observed by two Spitzer Space Telescope Legacy surveys of nearby star-forming regions. We compile complete spectral energy distributions, calculate L-bol for each source, and study the protostellar luminosity distribution. This distribution extends over three orders of magnitude, from 0.01 L-circle dot to 69 L-circle dot, and has a mean and median of 4.3 L-circle dot and 1.3 L-circle dot, respectively. The distributions are very similar for Class 0 and Class I sources except for an excess of low luminosity (L-bol <= 0.5 L-circle dot) Class I sources compared to Class 0. 100 out of the 230 protostars (43%) lack any available data in the far-infrared and submillimeter (70 mu m < lambda < 850 mu m) and have L-bol underestimated by factors of 2.5 on average, and up to factors of 8-10 in extreme cases. Correcting these underestimates for each source individually once additional data becomes available will likely increase both the mean and median of the sample by 35%-40%. We discuss and compare our results to several recent theoretical studies of protostellar luminosities and show that our new results do not invalidate the conclusions of any of these studies. As these studies demonstrate that there is more than one plausible accretion scenario that can match observations, future attention is clearly needed. The better statistics provided by our increased data set should aid such future work.