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The origin of a universal filament width in molecular clouds

Priestley, F. D. and Whitworth, A. P. ORCID: 2022. The origin of a universal filament width in molecular clouds. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 509 (1) , 1494–1503. 10.1093/mnras/stab2816

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Filamentary structures identified in far-infrared observations of molecular clouds are typically found to have full widths at half-maximum ∼0.1pc⁠. However, the physical explanation for this phenomenon is currently uncertain. We use hydrodynamic simulations of cylindrically symmetric converging flows to show that the full width at half-maximum of the resulting filament’s surface density profile, FWHMΣ⁠, is closely related to the location of the accretion shock, where the inflow meets the boundary of the filament. For inflow Mach number, M⁠, between 1 and 5, filament FWHMΣs fall in the range 0.03pc≲FWHMΣ≲0.3pc⁠, with higher M resulting in narrower filaments. A large sample of filaments, seen at different evolutionary stages and with different values of M⁠, naturally results in a peaked distribution of FWHMΣs similar in shape to that obtained from far-infrared observations of molecular clouds. However, unless the converging flows are limited to M≲3⁠, the peak of the distribution of FWHMΣs is below the observed ∼0.1pc⁠.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Advanced Research Computing @ Cardiff (ARCCA)
Physics and Astronomy
Publisher: Royal Astronomical Society
ISSN: 0035-8711
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 December 2021
Date of Acceptance: 27 September 2021
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2024 13:57

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