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A Holistic Scenario of Turbulent Molecular Cloud Evolution and Control of the Star Formation Efficiency. First Tests

By SpaceRef Editor
January 30, 2003
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Astrophysics, abstract
astro-ph/0301546


From: Enrique Vazquez-Semadeni <[email protected]>
Date: Tue, 28 Jan 2003 00:30:31 GMT (48kb)

A Holistic Scenario of Turbulent Molecular Cloud Evolution and Control
of the Star Formation Efficiency. First Tests


Authors:
E. Vazquez-Semadeni (1),
J. Ballesteros-Paredes (1),
R. S. Klessen (2) ((1) IAUNAM; (2) AIP)

Comments: 6 pages, 3 figures. Uses emulateapj. Accepted in ApJ Letters


We compile a holistic scenario for molecular cloud (MC) evolution and control
of the star formation efficiency (SFE), and present a first set of numerical
tests of it. A {it lossy} compressible cascade can generate density
fluctuations and further turbulence at small scales from large-scale motions,
implying that the turbulence in MCs may originate from the compressions that
form them. Below a {it sonic} scale $ls$, turbulence cannot induce any
further subfragmentation, nor be a dominant support agent against gravity.
Since progressively smaller density peaks contain progressively smaller
fractions of the mass, we expect the SFE to decrease with decreasing $ls$, at
least when the cloud is globally supported by turbulence. Our numerical
experiments confirm this prediction. We also find that the collapsed mass
fraction in the simulations always saturates below 100% efficiency. This may be
due to the decreased mean density of the leftover interclump medium, which in
real clouds (not confined to a box) should then be more easily dispersed,
marking the “death” of the cloud. We identify two different functional
dependences (“modes”) of the SFE on $ls$, which roughly correspond to
globally supported and unsupported cases. Globally supported runs with most of
the turbulent energy at the largest scales have similar SFEs to those of
unsupported runs, providing numerical evidence of the dual role of turbulence,
whereby large-scale turbulent modes induce collapse at smaller scales. We
tentatively suggest that these modes may correspond to the clustered and
isolated modes of star formation, although here they are seen to form part of a
continuum rather than being separate modes. Finally, we compare with previous
proposals that the relevant parameter is the energy injection scale.

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