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The structure of the neutral interstellar medium: a theory of interstellar turbulence

Whitworth, Anthony Peter 1996. The structure of the neutral interstellar medium: a theory of interstellar turbulence. In: Blitz, Leo and Teuben, Peter eds. Unsolved Problems of the Milky Way, International Astronomical Union, vol. 169. Netherlands: Springer, pp. 591-596. (10.1007/978-94-009-1687-6_93)

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We present a model for the development of density structure in the neutral interstellar medium. In this model, bulk kinetic energy is injected mainly at small scales, by jets and expanding nebulae generated by young and/or massive stars. Subsequently, this bulk kinetic energy propagates to, and is dissipated on, larger scales. This is in contrast to standard (incompressible) Kolmogorov turbulence, where kinetic energy is injected at larger scales, then propagates to, and is dissipated on, smaller scales. The sense in which the Second Law of Thermodynamics drives the propagation of turbulent energy is reversed in the interstellar medium because virialized self-gravitating gas clumps and ensembles of clumps (clouds) have negative effective specific heat. The model is able to explain Larson’s relations (between the mass, size, and velocity-dispersion of molecular clouds and clumps; Larson 1981), the maximum masses of giant molecular cloud complexes, the velocity disper sions observed (at low resolution) in face-on spirals like the Milky Way, and the apparent scaling of the interstellar magnetic field with density.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Subjects: Q Science > QC Physics
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 9780792340409
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 08:07

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