Volume 528, April 2011
|Number of page(s)
|Interstellar and circumstellar matter
|28 February 2011
Was a cloud-cloud collision the trigger of the recent star formation in Serpens?
Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, School of Physics and Astronomy,
University of Manchester,
2 School of Physics, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4QL, UK
3 Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Giessenbachstraße, 85748 Garching, Germany
4 Universitäts-Sternwarte München, Scheinerstraße 1, 81679 München, Germany
5 Laboratoire AIM, CEA/DSM-CNRS-Université Paris Diderot, IRFU/Service d’Astrophysique, C.E. Saclay, Orme de merisiers, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Received: 27 July 2010
Accepted: 10 January 2011
Context. The complexity of the interstellar medium (ISM) is such that it is unlikely that star formation is initiated in the same way in all molecular clouds. While some clouds seem to collapse on their own, others may be triggered by an external event such as a cloud/flow collision forming a gravitationally unstable enhanced density layer.
Aims. This work tests cloud-cloud collisions as the triggering mechanism for star formation in the Serpens Main Cluster as has been suggested by previous work.
Methods. A set of smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) simulations of the collision between two cylindrical clouds are performed and compared to (sub)millimetre observations of the Serpens Main Cluster.
Results. A configuration was found that reproduces many of the observed characteristics of Serpens, including some of the main features of the peculiar velocity field. The evolution of the velocity with position throughout the model is similar to the observed one and the column density and masses within the modelled cloud agree with those measured for the SE sub-cluster. Furthermore, our results also show that an asymmetric collision provides the ingredients to reproduce lower density filaments perpendicular to the main structure, similar to those observed. In this scenario, the formation of the NW sub-cluster of Serpens can be reproduced only if there is a pre-existing marginally gravitationally unstable region at the time the collision occurs.
Conclusions. This work supports the interpretation that a collision between two clouds may have been the trigger of the most recent burst of star formation in Serpens. It not only explains the complicated velocity structure seen in the region, but also the temperature differences between the north (in “isolated” collapse) and the south (resulting from the shock between the clouds). In addition it provides an explanation for the sources in the south having a larger spread in age than those in the north.
Key words: stars: formation / stars: individual: Serpens / ISM: clouds / ISM: kinematics and dynamics / methods: numerical
© ESO, 2011
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