skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, May 23 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, May 24 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Title: Gravity versus Magnetic Fields in Forming Molecular Clouds
Abstract

Magnetic fields are dynamically important in the diffuse interstellar medium. Understanding how gravitationally bound, star-forming clouds form requires modeling of the fields in a self-consistent, supernova-driven, turbulent, magnetized, stratified disk. We employ the FLASH magnetohydrodynamics code to follow the formation and early evolution of clouds with final masses of 3–8 × 103Mwithin such a simulation. We use the code’s adaptive mesh refinement capabilities to concentrate numerical resolution in zoom-in regions covering single clouds, allowing us to investigate the detailed dynamics and field structure of individual self-gravitating clouds in a consistent background medium. Our goal is to test the hypothesis that dense clouds are dynamically evolving objects far from magnetohydrostatic equilibrium. We find that the cloud envelopes are magnetically supported with field lines parallel to density gradients and flow velocity, as indicated by the histogram of relative orientations and other statistical measures. In contrast, the dense cores of the clouds are gravitationally dominated, with gravitational energy exceeding internal, kinetic, or magnetic energy and accelerations due to gravity exceeding those due to magnetic or thermal pressure gradients. In these regions, field directions vary strongly, with a slight preference toward being perpendicular to density gradients, as shown by three-dimensional histograms of relative orientation.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
1815461
NSF-PAR ID:
10362455
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Date Published:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Volume:
925
Issue:
2
ISSN:
0004-637X
Format(s):
Medium: X Size: Article No. 196
Size(s):
["Article No. 196"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Water vapor (H2O) is one of the brightest molecular emitters after carbon monoxide (CO) in galaxies with high infrared (IR) luminosity, allowing us to investigate the warm and dense phase of the interstellar medium (ISM) where star formation occurs. However, due to the complexity of its radiative spectrum, H2O is not frequently exploited as an ISM tracer in distant galaxies. Therefore, H2O studies of the warm and dense gas at high-zremain largely unexplored. In this work, we present observations conducted with the Northern Extended Millimeter Array (NOEMA) toward threez > 6 IR-bright quasarsJ2310+1855,J1148+5251, andJ0439+1634targeted in their multiple para- and ortho-H2O transitions (312 − 303, 111 − 000, 220 − 211, and 422 − 413), as well as their far-IR (FIR) dust continuum. By combining our data with previous measurements from the literature, we estimated the dust masses and temperatures, continuum optical depths, IR luminosities, and star formation rates (SFR) from the FIR continuum. We modeled the H2O lines using the MOLPOP-CEP radiative transfer code, finding that water vapor lines in our quasar host galaxies are primarily excited in the warm, dense (with a gas kinetic temperature and density ofTkin = 50 K,nH2 ∼ 104.5 − 105 cm−3) molecular medium with a water vapor column density ofNH2O ∼ 2 × 1017 − 3 × 1018 cm−3. High-JH2O lines are mainly radiatively pumped by the intense optically-thin far-IR radiation field associated with a warm dust component at temperatures ofTdust ∼ 80 − 190 K that account for < 5 − 10% of the total dust mass. In the case of J2310+1855, our analysis points to a relatively high value of the continuum optical depth at 100 μm (τ100 ∼ 1). Our results are in agreement with expectations based on the H2O spectral line energy distribution of local and high-zultra-luminous IR galaxies and active galactic nuclei (AGN). The analysis of the Boltzmann diagrams highlights the interplay between collisions and IR pumping in populating the high H2O energy levels and it allows us to directly compare the excitation conditions in the targeted quasar host galaxies. In addition, the observations enable us to sample the high-luminosity part of the H2O–total-IR (TIR) luminosity relations (LH2O − LTIR). Overall, our results point to supralinear trends that suggest H2O–TIR relations are likely driven by IR pumping, rather than the mere co-spatiality between the FIR continuum- and line-emitting regions. The observedLH2O/LTIRratios in ourz > 6 quasars do not show any strong deviations with respect to those measured in star-forming galaxies and AGN at lower redshifts. This supports the notion that H2O can be likely used to trace the star formation activity buried deep within the dense molecular clouds.

     
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Magnetic fields of molecular clouds in the central molecular zone (CMZ) have been relatively under-observed at sub-parsec resolution. Here, we report JCMT/POL2 observations of polarized dust emission in the CMZ, which reveal magnetic field structures in dense gas at ∼0.5 pc resolution. The 11 molecular clouds in our sample include two in the western part of the CMZ (Sgr C and a farside cloud candidate), four around the Galactic longitude 0 (the 50 km s−1cloud, CO 0.02−0.02, theStone, and theSticksandStrawamong the Three Little Pigs), and five along the Dust Ridge (G0.253+0.016, clouds b, c, d, and e/f), for each of which we estimate the magnetic field strength using the angular dispersion function method. The morphologies of magnetic fields in the clouds suggest potential imprints of feedback from expanding Hiiregions and young massive star clusters. A moderate correlation between the total viral parameter versus the star formation rate (SFR) and the dense gas fraction of the clouds is found. A weak correlation between the mass-to-flux ratio and the SFR, and a weak anticorrelation between the magnetic field and the dense gas fraction are also found. Comparisons between magnetic fields and other dynamic components in clouds suggest a more dominant role of self-gravity and turbulence in determining the dynamical states of the clouds and affecting star formation at the studied scales.

     
    more » « less
  3. ABSTRACT

    The properties of young star clusters formed within a galaxy are thought to vary in different interstellar medium conditions, but the details of this mapping from galactic to cluster scales are poorly understood due to the large dynamic range involved in galaxy and star cluster formation. We introduce a new method for modelling cluster formation in galaxy simulations: mapping giant molecular clouds (GMCs) formed self-consistently in a FIRE-2 magnetohydrodynamic galaxy simulation on to a cluster population according to a GMC-scale cluster formation model calibrated to higher resolution simulations, obtaining detailed properties of the galaxy’s star clusters in mass, metallicity, space, and time. We find $\sim 10{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of all stars formed in the galaxy originate in gravitationally bound clusters overall, and this fraction increases in regions with elevated Σgas and ΣSFR, because such regions host denser GMCs with higher star formation efficiency. These quantities vary systematically over the history of the galaxy, driving variations in cluster formation. The mass function of bound clusters varies – no single Schechter-like or power-law distribution applies at all times. In the most extreme episodes, clusters as massive as 7 × 106 M⊙ form in massive, dense clouds with high star formation efficiency. The initial mass–radius relation of young star clusters is consistent with an environmentally dependent 3D density that increases with Σgas and ΣSFR. The model does not reproduce the age and metallicity statistics of old ($\gt 11\rm Gyr$) globular clusters found in the Milky Way, possibly because it forms stars more slowly at z > 3.

     
    more » « less
  4. ABSTRACT

    We present the stability analysis of two regions, OMC-3 and OMC-4, in the massive and long molecular cloud complex of Orion A. We obtained 214 $\mu$m HAWC + /SOFIA polarization data, and we make use of archival data for the column density and C18O (1–0) emission line. We find clear depolarization in both observed regions and that the polarization fraction is anticorrelated with the column density and the polarization-angle dispersion function. We find that the filamentary cloud and dense clumps in OMC-3 are magnetically supercritical and strongly subvirial. This region should be in the gravitational collapse phase and is consistent with many young stellar objects (YSOs) forming in the region. Our histogram of relative orientation (HRO) analysis shows that the magnetic field is dynamically sub-dominant in the dense gas structures of OMC-3. We present the first polarization map of OMC-4. We find that the observed region is generally magnetically subcritical except for an elongated dense core, which could be a result of projection effect of a filamentary structure aligned close to the line of sight. The relative large velocity dispersion and the unusual positive shape parameters at high column densities in the HROs analysis suggest that our viewing angle may be close to axes of filamentary substructures in OMC-4. The dominating strong magnetic field in OMC-4 is unfavourable for star formation and is consistent with much fewer YSOs than in OMC-3.

     
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    To investigate the effects of stellar feedback on the gravitational state of giant molecular clouds (GMCs), we study12CO and13CO Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array maps of nine GMCs distributed throughout the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), the nearest star-forming galaxy to our own. We perform noise and resolution matching on the sample, working at a common resolution of 3.″5 (0.85 pc at the LMC distance of 50 kpc), and we use the Spectral Clustering for Molecular Emission Segmentation clustering algorithm to identify discrete substructure, or “clumps.” We supplement these data with three tracers of recent star formation: 8μm surface brightness, continuum-subtracted Hαflux, and interstellar radiation field energy density inferred from dust emission. The12CO clumps identified cover a range of 3.6 dex in luminosity-based mass and 2.4 dex in average 8μm surface brightness, representative of the wide range of conditions of the interstellar medium in the LMC. Our observations suggest evidence for increased turbulence in these clouds. While the turbulent linewidths are correlated with clump surface density, in agreement with previous observations, we find even better correlation with the three star formation activity tracers considered, suggesting stellar energy injection plays a significant role in the dynamical state of the clumps. The excess linewidths we measure do not appear to result from opacity broadening.12CO clumps are found to be typically less gravitationally bound than13CO clumps, with some evidence of the kinetic-to-gravitational potential energy ratio increasing with star formation tracers. Further multiline analysis may better constrain the assumptions made in these calculations.

     
    more » « less