Volume 529, May 2011
|Number of page(s)||18|
|Section||Interstellar and circumstellar matter|
|Published online||18 March 2011|
The link between molecular cloud structure and turbulence
IRFU/SAp CEA/DSM, Laboratoire AIM CNRS - Université Paris
2 OASU/LAB-UMR5804, CNRS, Université Bordeaux 1, 33270 Floirac, France
3 I. Physikalisches Institut, Universität zu Köln, Zülpicher Straße 77, 50937 Köln, Germany
4 Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg, Inst. für Theor. Astrophysik, Albert-Ueberle Str. 2, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
5 Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
6 École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, CRAL, 69364 Lyon Cedex 07, France
7 Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, Stanford University, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA
8 School of Physics, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 QL, UK
Received: 16 December 2009
Accepted: 18 December 2010
Aims. We aim to better understand how the spatial structure of molecular clouds is governed by turbulence. For that, we study the large-scale spatial distribution of low-density molecular gas and search for characteristic length scales.
Methods. We employ a 35 square degrees 13CO 1 → 0 molecular line survey of Cygnus X and visual extinction (AV) maps of 17 Galactic clouds to analyze the spatial structure with the Δ-variance method. This sample contains a large variety of different molecular cloud types with different star-forming activity.
Results. The Δ-variance spectra obtained from the AV maps show differences between low-mass star-forming (SF) clouds and massive giant molecular clouds (GMC) in terms of shape of the spectrum and its power-law exponent β. Low-mass SF clouds have a double-peak structure with characteristic size scales around 1 pc (though with a large scatter around this value) and 4 pc. The GMCs show no characteristic scale in the AV-maps, which can partly be ascribed to a distance effect owing to a larger line-of-sight (LOS) confusion. The Δ-variance for Cygnus, determined from the 13CO survey, shows characteristic scales at 4 pc and 40 pc, either reflecting the filament structure and large-scale turbulence forcing or – for the 4 pc scale – the scale below which the 13CO 1 → 0 line becomes optically thick. Though there are different processes that can introduce characteristic scales, such as geometry, decaying turbulence, the transition scale from supersonic to subsonic turbulence (the sonic scale), line-of-sight effects and energy injection caused by expanding supernova shells, outflows, HII-regions, and although the relative contribution of these effects strongly varies from cloud to cloud, it is remarkable that the resulting turbulent structure of molecular clouds shows similar characteristics.
Key words: methods: analytical / dust, extinction / ISM: molecules / ISM: structure
© ESO, 2011
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