Volume 580, August 2015
|Number of page(s)||7|
|Section||Interstellar and circumstellar matter|
|Published online||29 July 2015|
The formation and destruction of molecular clouds and galactic star formation
An origin for the cloud mass function and star formation efficiency
1 Department of Physics, Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University, 464-8602 Nagoya, Japan
2 Division of Theoretical Astronomy, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan Osawa, Mitaka, 181-8588 Tokyo, Japan
3 Department of Environmental Systems Science, Doshisha University Tatara Miyakodani 1-3, Kyotanabe City, 610-0394 Kyoto, Japan
4 Department of Physics and Research Center for the Early Universe The University of Tokyo, 113-0033 Tokyo, Japan
Received: 24 December 2014
Accepted: 18 May 2015
We describe an overall picture of galactic-scale star formation. Recent high-resolution magneto-hydrodynamical simulations of two-fluid dynamics with cooling, heating, and thermal conduction have shown that the formation of molecular clouds requires multiple episodes of supersonic compression. This finding enables us to create a scenario in which molecular clouds form in interacting shells or bubbles on a galactic scale. First, we estimated the ensemble-averaged growth rate of molecular clouds on a timescale longer than a million years. Next, we performed radiation hydrodynamics simulations to evaluate the destruction rate of magnetized molecular clouds by the stellar far-ultraviolet radiation. We also investigated the resulting star formation efficiency within a cloud, which amounts to a low value (a few percent) if we adopt the power-law exponent ~−2.5 for the mass distribution of stars in the cloud. We finally describe the time evolution of the mass function of molecular clouds on a long timescale (>1 Myr) and discuss the steady state exponent of the power-law slope in various environments.
Key words: stars: formation / ISM: clouds / ISM: bubbles / ISM: magnetic fields / ISM: structure / ISM: kinematics and dynamics
© ESO, 2015
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