Volume 559, November 2013
|Number of page(s)||6|
|Section||Interstellar and circumstellar matter|
|Published online||20 November 2013|
Fitting density models to observational data
The local Schmidt law in molecular clouds
1 University of Milan, Department of Physics, via Celoria 16, 20133 Milan, Italy
2 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Mail Stop 72, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
3 University of Vienna, Türkenschanzstrasse 17, 1180 Vienna, Austria
Received: 3 May 2013
Accepted: 14 October 2013
We consider the general problem of fitting a parametric density model to discrete observations, taken to follow a non-homogeneous Poisson point process. This class of models is very common, and can be used to describe many astrophysical processes, including the distribution of protostars in molecular clouds. We give the expression for the likelihood of a given spatial density distribution of protostars and apply it to infer the most probable dependence of the protostellar surface density on the gas surface density. Finally, we apply this general technique to model the distribution of protostars in the Orion molecular cloud and robustly derive the local star formation scaling (Schmidt) law for a molecular cloud. We find that in this cloud the protostellar surface density, ΣYSO, is directly proportional to the square gas column density, here expressed as infrared extinction in the K-band, AK: more precisely, ΣYSO = (1.65 ± 0.19) (AK/mag)2.03 ± 0.15 stars pc-2.
Key words: ISM: clouds / dust, extinction / stars: formation / ISM: structure / ISM: individual objects: Orion molecular complex / methods: statistical
© ESO, 2013
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