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The influence of the turbulent perturbation scale on pre-stellar core fragmentation and disc formation
Walch, S.; Whitworth, A. P.; Girichidis, P.
AA(School of Physics & Astronomy, Cardiff University, 5 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AA, Wales), AB(School of Physics & Astronomy, Cardiff University, 5 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AA, Wales), AC(School of Physics & Astronomy, Cardiff University, 5 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AA, Wales; Institut für Theoretische Astrophysik, Albert-Ueberle-Str. 2, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany)
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 419, Issue 1, pp. 760-770. (MNRAS Homepage)
Publication Date:
Astronomy Keywords:
hydrodynamics, turbulence, circumstellar matter, stars: formation, stars: low-mass
Abstract Copyright:
© 2011 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2011 RAS
Bibliographic Code:


The collapse of weakly turbulent pre-stellar cores is a critical stage in the process of star formation. Being highly non-linear and stochastic, the outcome of collapse can only be explored theoretically by performing large ensembles of numerical simulations. Standard practice is to quantify the initial turbulent velocity field in a core in terms of the amount of turbulent energy (or some equivalent) and the exponent in the power spectrum (n ≡-dlog Pk/dlog k). In this paper, we present a numerical study of the influence of the details of the turbulent velocity field on the collapse of an isolated, weakly turbulent, low-mass pre-stellar core. We show that, as long as n ≳ 3 (as is usually assumed), a more critical parameter than n is the maximum wavelength in the turbulent velocity field, lambdaMAX. This is because lambdaMAX carries most of the turbulent energy, and thereby influences both the amount and the spatial coherence of the angular momentum in the core. We show that the formation of dense filaments during collapse depends critically on lambdaMAX, and we explain this finding using a force balance analysis. We also show that the core has only a high probability of fragmenting if lambdaMAX > RCORE/2 (where RCORE is the core radius), the dominant mode of fragmentation involves the formation and break-up of filaments and although small protostellar discs (with radius RDISC≲ 20 au) form routinely, more extended discs are rare. In turbulent, low-mass cores of the type we simulate here, the formation of large, fragmenting protostellar discs is suppressed by early fragmentation in the filaments.
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