Context. Bow shocks are produced by many astrophysical objects where shock waves are present. Stellar bow shocks, generated by runaway stars, have been previously detected in small numbers and well-studied. Along with progress in model development and improvements in observing instruments, our knowledge of the emission produced by these objects and its origin can now be more clearly understood.
Aims: We produce a stellar bow-shock catalogue by applying uniform search criteria and a systematic search process. This catalogue is a starting point for statistical studies, to help us address fundamental questions such as, for instance, the conditions under wich a stellar bow shock is detectable.
Methods: By using the newest infrared data releases, we carried out a search for bow shocks produced by early-type runaway stars. We first explored whether a set of known IRAS bow shock candidates are visible in the most recently available IR data, which has much higher resolution and sensitivity. We then carried out a selection of runaway stars from the latest, large runaway catalogue available. In this first release, we focused on OB stars and searched for bow-shaped features in the vicinity of these stars.
Results: We provide a bow-shock candidate survey that gathers a total of 28 members, which we call the Extensive stellar BOw Shock Survey (E-BOSS). We derive the main bow-shock parameters, and present some preliminary statistical results on the detected objects.
Conclusions: Our analysis of the initial sample and the newly detected objects yields a bow-shock detectability around OB stars of ~10 per cent. The detections do not seem to depend particularly on either stellar mass, age or position. The extension of the E-BOSS sample, with upcoming IR data, and by considering, for example, other spectral types as well, will allow us to perform a more detailed study of the findings.