The star-forming cores in the centre of the Trifid nebula (M 20): from Herschel to the near-infrared
A new detailed infrared (IR) study of eight star-forming dense condensations (TCs) in M 20, the Trifid nebula, is presented. The aim is to determine the physical properties of the dust in such globules and establish the presence and properties of their embedded protostellar and/or young stellar population. For this, we analysed new Herschel far-IR and Calar Alto near-IR images of the region, combined with Spitzer Infrared Array Camera (Spitzer/IRAC) archival observations. We confirm the presence of several young stellar objects (YSOs), most with mid-IR colours of Class II sources in all but one of the observed cores. Five TCs are dominated in the far-IR by Class I sources with bolometric luminosities between 100 and 500 L☉. We report the discovery of a possible counterjet to HH 399 and its protostellar engine inside the photodissociation region TC2, as well as a bipolar outflow system, signposted by symmetric H2 emission knots, embedded in TC3. The present results are compatible with previous suggestions that star formation has been active in the region for some 3 × 105 yr, and that the most recent events in some of these TCs may have been triggered by the expansion of the H II region. We also obtained a revised value for the distance to M 20 of 2.0 ± 0.1 kpc.