Journal Article

The structure of molecular clouds – III. A link between cloud structure and star formation mode

Jonathan Rowles and Dirk Froebrich

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 416, issue 1, pages 294-301
Published in print September 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online August 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
The structure of molecular clouds – III. A link between cloud structure and star formation mode

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We analyse extinction maps of nearby giant molecular clouds to forge a link between driving processes of turbulence and modes of star formation. Our investigation focuses on cloud structure in the column density range above the self-shielding threshold of 1 mag AV and below the star formation threshold – the regime in which turbulence is expected to dominate.

We identify clouds with shallow mass distributions as cluster forming. Clouds that form stars in a less clustered or isolated mode show a steeper mass distribution. Structure functions prove inadequate to distinguish between clouds of different star formation mode. They may, however, suggest that the turbulence in the average cloud is governed by solenoidal forcing. The same is found using the Δ-variance analysis which also indicates that clouds with a clustered mode of star formation show an enhanced component of compressive driving in the turbulent field. Thus, while star formation occurs in each cloud, independent of the turbulent driving mechanism, compressive forcing appears to be associated with the formation of stellar clusters.

Keywords: stars: formation; ISM: clouds; dust, extinction; ISM: molecules

Journal Article.  6641 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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