On the nature of star-forming filaments: II. Sub-filaments and velocities

R J Smith, S C O Glover, R S Klessen, Gary Fuller

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We show that hydrodynamic turbulent cloud simulations naturally produce large filaments made up of a network of smaller and coherent subfilaments. Such simulations resemble observations of filaments and fibres in nearby molecular clouds. The subfilaments are dynamical features formed at the stagnation points of the turbulent velocity field where shocks dissipate the turbulent energy. They are a ubiquitous feature of the simulated clouds, which appear from the beginning of the simulation and are not formed by gradual fragmentation of larger filaments. Most of the subfilaments are gravitationally subcritical and do not fragment into cores, however, there is also a significant fraction of supercritical subfilaments which break up into star-forming cores. The subfilaments are coherent along their length, and the residual velocities along their spine show that they are subsonically contracting without any ordered rotation on scales of ˜0.1 pc. Accretion flows along the subfilaments can feed material into star-forming cores embedded within the network. The overall mass in subfilaments and the number of subfilaments increases as the cloud evolves. We propose that the formation of filaments and subfilaments is a natural consequence of the turbulent cascade in the complex multiphase interstellar medium. Subfilaments are formed by the high wavenumber, small-scale modes in the turbulent velocity field. These are then stretched by local shear motions and gathered together by a combination of low wavenumber modes and gravitational contraction on larger scales, and by doing so build up the extended filaments observed in column density maps.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3640-3655
    Number of pages15
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Issue number4
    Early online date1 Dec 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


    Dive into the research topics of 'On the nature of star-forming filaments: II. Sub-filaments and velocities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this