Status Report

Star Formation in Turbulent Interstellar Gas

By SpaceRef Editor
January 21, 2003
Filed under , ,

Astrophysics, abstract

From: Ralf Klessen <[email protected]>
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2003 19:45:46 GMT (299kb)

Star Formation in Turbulent Interstellar Gas

Ralf S. Klessen (Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam, Germany)

Comments: 33 pages, incl. 11 figures, to appear in Reviews of Modern Astronomy,
Vol. 16 (high-resolution version at
this http URL)

Understanding the star formation process is central to much of modern
astrophysics. For several decades it has been thought that stellar birth is
primarily controlled by the interplay between gravity and magnetostatic
support, modulated by ambipolar diffusion. Recently, however, both
observational and numerical work has begun to suggest that supersonic
interstellar turbulence rather than magnetic fields controls star formation.
Supersonic turbulence can provide support against gravitational collapse on
global scales, while at the same time it produces localized density
enhancements that allow for collapse on small scales. The efficiency and
timescale of stellar birth in Galactic molecular clouds strongly depend on the
properties of the interstellar turbulent velocity field, with slow,
inefficient, isolated star formation being a hallmark of turbulent support, and
fast, efficient, clustered star formation occurring in its absence.

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