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Star Formation from Turbulent Fragmentation

  • Ralf S. Klessen (a1) (a2)

Abstract

Star formation is intimately linked to the dynamical evolution of molecular clouds. Turbulent fragmentation determines where and when protostellar cores form, and how they contract and grow in mass via accretion from the surrounding cloud material. Using numerical models of self-gravitating supersonic turbulence, efficiency, spatial distribution and timescale of star formation in turbulent interstellar clouds are estimated. Turbulence that is not continuously replenished or that is driven on large scales leads to a rapid formation of stars in a clustered mode, whereas interstellar turbulence that carries most energy on small scales results in isolated star formation with low efficiency. The clump mass spectrum for models of pure hydrodynamic turbulence is steeper than the observed one, but gets close to it when gravity is included. The mass spectrum of dense cores is log-normal for decaying and large-wavelength turbulence, similar to the IMF, but is too flat in the case of small-scale turbulence. The three-dimensional models of molecular cloud fragmentation can be combined with dynamical pre-main sequence stellar evolution calculations to obtain a consistent description of all phases of the star formation process. First results are reported for a one solar mass protostar.

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