A Model for the Internal Structure of Molecular Cloud Cores Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • We generalize the classic Bonnor-Ebert stability analysis of pressure-truncated, self-gravitating gas spheres, to include clouds with arbitrary equations of state. A virial-theorem analysis is also used to incorporate mean magnetic fields into such structures. The results are applied to giant molecular clouds (GMCs), and to individual dense cores, with an eye to accounting for recent observations of the internal velocity-dispersion profiles of the cores in particular. We argue that GMCs and massive cores are at or near their critical mass, and that in such a case the size-linewidth and mass-radius relations between them are only weakly dependent on their internal structures; any gas equation of state leads to essentially the same relations. We briefly consider the possibility that molecular clouds can be described by polytropic pressure-density relations (of either positive or negative index), but show that these are inconsistent with the apparent gravitational virial equilibrium, 2U + W = 0 of GMCs and of massive cores. This class of models would include clouds whose nonthermal support comes entirely from Alfven wave pressure. The simplest model consistent with all the salient features of GMCs and cores is a ``pure logotrope,'' in which P/P_c = 1 + A ln(rho/rho_c). Detailed comparisons with data are made to estimate the value of A, and an excellent fit to the observed dependence of velocity dispersion on radius in cores is obtained with A = 0.2.

publication date

  • September 1996