Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 408, 1089-1094 (2010/October-3)
Do lognormal column-density distributions in molecular clouds imply supersonic turbulence ?
TASSIS K., CHRISTIE D.A., URBAN A., PINEDA J.L., MOUSCHOVIAS T.Ch., YORKE H.W. and MARTEL H.
Abstract (from CDS):
Recent observations of column densities in molecular clouds find lognormal distributions with power-law high-density tails. These results are often interpreted as indications that supersonic turbulence dominates the dynamics of the observed clouds. We calculate and present the column-density distributions of three clouds, modelled with very different techniques, none of which is dominated by supersonic turbulence. The first star-forming cloud is simulated using smoothed particle hydrodynamics; in this case gravity, opposed only by thermal-pressure forces, drives the evolution. The second cloud is magnetically subcritical with subsonic turbulence, simulated using non-ideal magnetohydrodynamics; in this case the evolution is due to gravitationally-driven ambipolar diffusion. The third cloud is isothermal, self-gravitating and has a smooth density distribution analytically approximated with a uniform inner region and an r–2 profile at larger radii. We show that in all three cases the column-density distributions are lognormal. Power-law tails develop only at late times (or, in the case of the smooth analytic profile, for strongly centrally concentrated configurations), when gravity dominates all opposing forces. It therefore follows that lognormal column-density distributions are generic features of diverse model clouds, and should not be interpreted as being a consequence of supersonic turbulence.
© 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 RAS
turbulence - methods: numerical - methods: statistical - stars: formation - ISM: clouds - ISM: structure
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