Ambipolar diffusion regulated collapse of filaments threaded by perpendicular magnetic fields
1 School of Physics and Astronomy,
University of Leeds, Leeds LS2
2 Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
Accepted: 8 September 2016
Context. In giant molecular clouds (GMCs), the fractional ionisation is low enough that the neutral and charged particles are weakly coupled. A consequence of this is that the magnetic flux redistributes within the cloud, allowing an initially magnetically supported region to collapse.
Aims. We aim to elucidate the effects of ambipolar diffusion on the evolution of infinitely long filaments and the effect of decaying turbulence on that evolution.
Methods. First, in ideal magnetohydrodynamics (MHD), a two-dimensional cylinder of an isothermal magnetised plasma with initially uniform density was allowed to evolve to an equilibrium state. Then, the response of the filament to ambipolar diffusion was followed using an adaptive mesh refinement multifluid MHD code. Various ambipolar resistivities were chosen to reflect different ratios of Jeans length to ambipolar diffusion length scale. To study the effect of turbulence on the ambipolar diffusion rate, we perturbed the equilibrium filament with a turbulent velocity field quantified by a rms sonic Mach number, Mrms, of 10, 3 or 1.
Results. We numerically reproduce the density profiles for filaments that are in magnetohydrostatic and pressure equilibrium with their surroundings obtained in a published model and show that these equilibria are dynamically stable. If the effect of ambipolar diffusion is considered, these filaments lose magnetic support initiating cloud collapse. The filaments do not lose magnetic flux. Rather the magnetic flux is redistributed within the filament from the dense centre towards the diffuse envelope. The rate of the collapse is inversely proportional to the fractional ionisation and two gravitationally-driven ambipolar diffusion regimes for the collapse are observed as predicted in a published model. For high values of the ionisation coefficient, that is X ≥ 10-7, the gas is strongly coupled to the magnetic field and the Jeans length is larger than the ambipolar diffusion length scale. Then the collapse is governed by magnetically-regulated ambipolar diffusion. The gas collapses at velocities much lower than the sound speed. For X ≲ 10-8, the gas is weakly coupled to the magnetic field and the magnetic support is removed by gravitationally-dominated ambipolar diffusion. Here, neutrals and ions only collide sporadically, that is the ambipolar diffusion length scale is larger than the Jeans length, and the gas can attain high collapse velocities. When decaying turbulence is included, additional support is provided to the filament. This slows down the collapse of the filament even in the absence of a magnetic field. When a magnetic field is present, the collapse rate increases by a ratio smaller than for the non-magnetic case. This is because of a speed-up of the ambipolar diffusion due to larger magnetic field gradients generated by the turbulence and because the ambipolar diffusion aids the dissipation of turbulence below the ambipolar diffusion length scale. The highest increase in the rate is observed for the lowest ionisation coefficient and the highest turbulent intensity.
Key words: methods: numerical / ISM: magnetic fields / ISM: clouds / stars: formation / magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
© ESO 2016