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Title: The effects of flow-inhomogeneities on molecular cloud formation: Local versus global collapse

Observational evidence from local star-forming regions mandates that star formation occurs shortly after, or even during, molecular cloud formation. Models of molecular cloud formation in large-scale converging flows have identified the physical mechanisms driving the necessary rapid fragmentation. They also point to global gravitational collapse driving supersonic turbulence in molecular clouds. Previous cloud formation models have focused on turbulence generation, gravitational collapse, magnetic fields, and feedback. Here, we explore the effect of structure in the flow on the resulting clouds and the ensuing gravitational collapse. We compare two extreme cases, one with a collision between two smooth streams, and one with streams containing small clumps. We find that structured converging flows lead to a delay of local gravitational collapse ({sup c}ore formation{sup )}. Hence, the cloud has more time to accumulate mass, eventually leading to a strong global collapse, and thus to a high core formation rate. Uniform converging flows fragment hydrodynamically early on, leading to the rapid onset of local gravitational collapse and an overall low core formation rate. This is also mirrored in the core mass distribution: the uniform initial conditions lead to more low-mass cores than the clumpy initial conditions. Kinetic (E{sub k} ) and gravitational energymore » (E{sub g} ) budgets suggest that collapse is only prevented for E{sub k} >> E{sub g} , which occurs for large scales in the smooth flow, and for small scales for the clumpy flow. Whenever E{sub k} ≈ E{sub g} , we observe gravitational collapse on those scales. Signatures of chemical abundance variations evolve differently for the gas phase and for the stellar population. For smooth flows, the forming cloud is well mixed, while its stellar population retains more information about the initial metallicities. For clumpy flows, the gas phase is less well mixed, while the stellar population has lost most of the information about its origin.« less
Authors:
;  [1] ;  [2]
  1. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14620 (United States)
  2. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22365591
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 790; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ABUNDANCE; COLLISIONS; COMPARATIVE EVALUATIONS; FEEDBACK; GRAVITATIONAL COLLAPSE; HYDRODYNAMICS; INSTABILITY; MAGNETIC FIELDS; MASS; MASS DISTRIBUTION; METALLICITY; MIRRORS; STARS; STREAMS; TURBULENCE