Volume 553, May 2013
|Number of page(s)||6|
|Published online||17 May 2013|
Connection between dense gas mass fraction, turbulence driving, and star formation efficiency of molecular clouds⋆
Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy,
2 Monash Centre for Astrophysics, School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University, Vic 3800, Australia
Received: 7 March 2013
Accepted: 18 April 2013
We examine the physical parameters that affect the accumulation of gas in molecular clouds to high column densities where the formation of stars takes place. In particular, we analyze the dense gas mass fraction (DGMF) in a set of self-gravitating, isothermal, magnetohydrodynamic turbulence simulations that include sink particles to model star formation. We find that the simulations predict close to exponential DGMFs over the column density range N(H2) = 3−25 × 1021 cm-2 that can be easily probed via, e.g., dust extinction measurements. The exponential slopes correlate with the type of turbulence driving and also with the star formation efficiency. They are almost uncorrelated with the sonic Mach number and magnetic-field strength. The slopes at early stages of cloud evolution are steeper than at the later stages. A comparison of these predictions with observations shows that only simulations with relatively noncompressive driving (b ≲ 0.4) agree with the DGMFs of nearby molecular clouds. Massive infrared dark clouds can show DGMFs that agree with more compressive driving. The DGMFs of molecular clouds can be significantly affected by how compressive the turbulence is on average. Variations in the level of compression can cause scatter to the DGMF slopes, and some variation is indeed necessary to explain the spread of the observed DGMF slopes. The observed DGMF slopes can also be affected by the clouds’ star formation activities and statistical cloud-to-cloud variations.
Key words: ISM: clouds / ISM: structure / stars: formation / turbulence
Appendices are available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2013
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