Fragmentation in molecular clouds and its connection to the IMF

R J Smith, P C Clark, I A Bonnell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    We present an analysis of star-forming gas cores in a smooth particle hydrodynamics simulation of a giant molecular cloud. We identify cores using their deep potential wells. This yields a smoother distribution with clearer boundaries than density. Additionally, this gives an indication of future collapse, as bound potential cores (p-cores) represent the earliest stages of fragmentation in molecular clouds. We find that the mass function of the p-cores resembles the stellar initial mass function and the observed clump mass function, although p-core masses (~0.7Msolar) are smaller than typical density clumps. The bound p-cores are generally subsonic, have internal substructure and are only quasi-spherical. We see no evidence of massive bound cores supported by turbulence. We trace the evolution of the p-cores forward in time, and investigate the connection between the original p-core mass and the stellar mass that formed from it. We find that there is a poor correlation, with considerable scatter suggesting accretion on to the core is dependent on more factors than just the initial core mass. During the accretion process the p-cores accrete from beyond the region first bound, highlighting the importance of the core environment to its subsequent evolution.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)830-841
    Number of pages12
    JournalRoyal Astronomical Society. Monthly Notices
    Volume396
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009

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