Vol 24, No 6

What is the Role of Gravity, Turbulence and Magnetic Fields in High-mass Star Formation Clouds?

An-Xu Luo, Hong-Li Liu, Guang-Xing Li, Sirong Pan and Dong-Ting Yang


To explore the potential role of gravity, turbulence and magnetic fields in high-mass star formation in molecular clouds, this study revisits the velocity dispersion–size (σL) and density–size (ρL) scalings and the associated turbulent energy spectrum using an extensive data sample. The sample includes various hierarchical density structures in high-mass star formation clouds, across scales of 0.01–100 pc. We observe σ ∝ L0.26 and ρ ∝ L−1.54 scalings, converging toward a virial equilibrium state. A nearly flat virial parameter–mass (αvirM) distribution is seen across all density scales, with αvir values centered around unity, suggesting a global equilibrium maintained by the interplay between gravity and turbulence across multiple scales. Our turbulent energy spectrum (E(k)) analysis, based on the σL and ρL scalings, yields a characteristic E(k) ∝ k−1.52. These findings indicate the potential significance of gravity, turbulence, and possibly magnetic fields in regulating dynamics of molecular clouds and high-mass star formation therein.


Key words: ISM: clouds – stars: formation – stars: kinematics and dynamics

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