Turbulence in the interstellar medium

D. Falceta-Goncalves*, G. Kowal, E. Falgarone, A. C. -L. Chian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Turbulence is ubiquitous in the insterstellar medium and plays a major role in several processes such as the formation of dense structures and stars, the stability of molecular clouds, the amplification of magnetic fields, and the re-acceleration and diffusion of cosmic rays. Despite its importance, interstellar turbulence, like turbulence in general, is far from being fully understood. In this review we present the basics of turbulence physics, focusing on the statistics of its structure and energy cascade. We explore the physics of compressible and incompressible turbulent flows, as well as magnetised cases. The most relevant observational techniques that provide quantitative insights into interstellar turbulence are also presented. We also discuss the main difficulties in developing a three-dimensional view of interstellar turbulence from these observations. Finally, we briefly present what the main sources of turbulence in the interstellar medium could be.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-604
Number of pages18
JournalNonlinear processes in geophysics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2014


  • Small-magellanic-cloud
  • Galactic molecular clouds
  • Compressible magnetohydrodynamic turbulence
  • Magnetic-field turbulence
  • Power spectrum analysis
  • Universal scaling laws
  • Solar-wind
  • MHD turbulence
  • Star-formation
  • H2O masers


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