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Gas cooling by dust during dynamical fragmentation

Whitworth, Anthony Peter, Boffin, H. M. J. and Francis, N. 1998. Gas cooling by dust during dynamical fragmentation. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 299 (2) , pp. 554-561. 10.1046/j.1365-8711.1998.01813.x

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We suggest that the abrupt switch, from hierarchical clustering on scales ≳ 0.04 pc, to binary (and occasionally higher multiple) systems on smaller scales, which Larson has deduced from his analysis of the grouping of pre-main-sequence stars in Taurus, arises because pre-protostellar gas becomes thermally coupled to dust at sufficiently high densities. The resulting change — from gas cooling by molecular lines at low densities to gas cooling by dust at high densities — enables the matter to radiate much more efficiently, and hence to undergo dynamical fragmentation. We derive the domain in which gas cooling by dust facilitates dynamical fragmentation. Low-mass (∼ M⊙) clumps — those supported mainly by thermal pressure — can probably access this domain spontaneously, albeit rather quasi-statically, provided that they exist in a region in which external perturbations are few and far between. More massive clumps probably require an impulsive external perturbation, for instance a supersonic collision with another clump, in order for the gas to reach sufficiently high density to couple thermally to the dust. Impulsive external perturbations should promote fragmentation, by generating highly non-linear substructures which can then be amplified by gravity during the subsequent collapse.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Uncontrolled Keywords: stars: formation; ISM: clouds; dust; extinction
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0035-8711
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 05:02

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