From Filamentary Networks to Dense Cores in Molecular Clouds: Toward a New Paradigm for Star Formation Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Recent studies of the nearest star-forming clouds of the Galaxy at submillimeter wavelengths with the Herschel Space Observatory have provided us with unprecedented images of the initial and boundary conditions of the star formation process. The Herschel results emphasize the role of interstellar filaments in the star formation process and connect remarkably well with nearly a decade's worth of numerical simulations and theory that have consistently shown that the ISM should be highly filamentary on all scales and star formation is intimately related to self-gravitating filaments. In this review, we trace how the apparent complexity of cloud structure and star formation is governed by relatively simple universal processes - from filamentary clumps to galactic scales. We emphasize two crucial and complementary aspects: (i) the key observational results obtained with Herschel over the past three years, along with relevant new results obtained from the ground on the kinematics of interstellar structures, and (ii) the key existing theoretical models and the many numerical simulations of interstellar cloud structure and star formation. We then synthesize a comprehensive physical picture that arises from the confrontation of these observations and simulations.

authors

  • AndrĂ©, Philippe
  • Francesco, James Di
  • Ward-Thompson, Derek
  • Inutsuka, Shu-ichiro
  • Pudritz, Ralph Egon
  • Pineda, Jaime