Clumpy and fractal shocks, and the generation of a velocity dispersion in molecular clouds

C. L. Dobbs, I. A. Bonnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We present an alternative explanation for the nature of turbulence in molecular clouds. Often associated with classical models of turbulence, we instead interpret the observed gas dynamics as random motions, induced when clumpy gas is subject to a shock. From simulations of shocks, we show that a supersonic velocity dispersion occurs in the shocked gas, provided the initial distribution of the gas is sufficiently non-uniform. We investigate the velocity-size-scale relation sigma proportional to r(alpha) for simulations of clumpy and fractal gas, and show that clumpy shocks can produce realistic velocity-size-scale relations with mean alpha similar to 0.5. For a fractal distribution, with a fractal dimension of 2.2 similar to what is observed in the interstellar medium, we find sigma proportional to r(0.4). The form of the velocity-size-scale relation can be understood as due to mass-loading, that is, the post-shock velocity of the gas is determined by the amount of mass encountered as the gas enters the shock. We support this hypothesis with analytical calculations of the velocity dispersion relation for different initial distributions. A prediction of this model is that the line-of-sight velocity dispersion should depend on the angle at which the shocked gas is viewed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1115-1124
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume374
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2007

Keywords

  • hydrodynamics
  • turbulence
  • ISM : clouds
  • ISM : kinematics and dynamics
  • LARGE-SCALE TURBULENCE
  • INTERSTELLAR-MEDIUM
  • STAR-FORMATION
  • DENSE CORES
  • SUPERSONIC TURBULENCE
  • NUMERICAL SIMULATIONS
  • DARK CLOUDS
  • H I
  • MASS
  • GALAXIES

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