The density variance – Mach number relation in the Taurus molecular cloud
Astrophysics Group, School of Physics, University of Exeter, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4
4QL, UK e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 2 February 2010
Supersonic turbulence in molecular clouds is a key agent in generating density enhancements that may subsequently go on to form stars. The stronger the turbulence – the higher the Mach number – the more extreme the density fluctuations are expected to be. Numerical models predict an increase in density variance, , with rms Mach number, M of the form: = , where b is a numerically-estimated parameter, and this prediction forms the basis of a large number of analytic models of star formation. We provide an estimate of the parameter b from 13CO J = 1-0 spectral line imaging observations and extinction mapping of the Taurus molecular cloud, using a recently developed technique that needs information contained solely in the projected column density field to calculate . When this is combined with a measurement of the rms Mach number, M, we are able to estimate b. We find , which is consistent with typical numerical estimates, and is characteristic of turbulent driving that includes a mixture of solenoidal and compressive modes. More conservatively, we constrain b to lie in the range 0.3-0.8, depending on the influence of sub-resolution structure and the role of diffuse atomic material in the column density budget (accounting for sub-resolution variance results in higher values of b, while inclusion of more low column density material results in lower values of b; the value b = 0.48 applies to material which is predominantly molecular, with no correction for sub-resolution variance). We also report a break in the Taurus column density power spectrum at a scale of ~1 pc, and find that the break is associated with anisotropy in the power spectrum. The break is observed in both 13CO and dust extinction power spectra, which, remarkably, are effectively identical despite detailed spatial differences between the 13CO and dust extinction maps.
Key words: magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / turbulence / techniques: spectroscopic / ISM: molecules / radio lines: ISM / ISM: kinematics and dynamics
© ESO, 2010