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A minimum column density of 1 g cm22 for massive
 

Summary: LETTERS
A minimum column density of 1 g cm22
for massive
star formation
Mark R. Krumholz1,2
& Christopher F. McKee3
Massive stars are very rare, but their extreme luminosities make
them both the only type of young star we can observe in distant
galaxies and the dominant energy sources in the Universe today.
They form rarely because efficient radiative cooling keeps most
star-forming gas clouds close to isothermal as they collapse, and
this favours fragmentation into stars of one solar mass or lower13
.
Heating of a cloud by accreting low-mass stars within it can pre-
vent fragmentation and allow formation of massive stars4,5
, but the
necessary properties for a cloud to form massive stars--and there-
fore where massive stars form in a galaxy--have not yet been
determined. Here we show that only clouds with column densities
of at least 1 g cm22

  

Source: Ahlers, Guenter - Department of Physics, University of California at Santa Barbara

 

Collections: Physics