Volume 629, September 2019
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Section||Letters to the Editor|
|Published online||26 August 2019|
Letter to the Editor
The role of molecular filaments in the origin of the prestellar core mass function and stellar initial mass function
Laboratoire d’Astrophysique (AIM), CEA/DRF, CNRS, Université Paris-Saclay, Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
2 Department of Physics, Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University, Furo-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-8602, Japan
3 Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço, Universidade do Porto, CAUP, Rua das Estrelas, 4150-762 Porto, Portugal
4 Jeremiah Horrocks Institute, University of Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE, UK
5 Department of Physics and Astronomy, Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Kagoshima University, 1-21-35 Korimoto, Kagoshima, Kagoshima 890-0065, Japan
6 National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Osawa 2-21-1, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-8588, Japan
Accepted: 29 July 2019
Context. The origin of the stellar initial mass function (IMF) is one of the most debated issues in astrophysics.
Aims. Here we explore the possible link between the quasi-universal filamentary structure of star-forming molecular clouds and the origin of the IMF.
Methods. Based on our recent comprehensive study of filament properties from Herschel Gould Belt survey observations, we derive, for the first time, a good estimate of the filament mass function (FMF) and filament line mass function (FLMF) in nearby molecular clouds. We use the observed FLMF to propose a simple toy model for the origin of the prestellar core mass function (CMF), relying on gravitational fragmentation of thermally supercritical but virialized filaments.
Results. We find that the FMF and the FLMF have very similar shapes and are both consistent with a Salpeter-like power-law function (dN/dlog Mline ∝ Mline−1.5±0.1) in the regime of thermally supercritical filaments (Mline > 16 M⊙ pc−1). This is a remarkable result since, in contrast, the mass distribution of molecular clouds and clumps is known to be significantly shallower than the Salpeter power-law IMF, with dN/dlog Mcl ∝ Mcl−0.7.
Conclusions. Since the vast majority of prestellar cores appear to form in thermally transcritical or supercritical filaments, we suggest that the prestellar CMF and by extension the stellar IMF are at least partly inherited from the FLMF through gravitational fragmentation of individual filaments.
Key words: stars: formation / ISM: clouds / ISM: structure / submillimeter: ISM
© Ph. André et al. 2019
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