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Abstract: The formation of stars is a key process in astrophysics. Detailed knowledgeof the physical mechanisms that govern stellar birth is a prerequisite forunderstanding the formation and evolution of our galactic home, the Milky Way.A theory of star formation is an essential part of any model for the origin ofour solar system and of planets around other stars. Despite this pivotalimportance, and despite many decades of research, our understanding of theprocesses that initiate and regulate star formation is still limited.Stars are born in cold interstellar clouds of molecular hydrogen gas. Starformation in these clouds is governed by the complex interplay between thegravitational attraction in the gas and agents such as turbulence, magneticfields, radiation and thermal pressure that resist compression. The competitionbetween these processes determines both the locations at which young stars formand how much mass they ultimately accrete. It plays out over many orders ofmagnitude in space and time, ranging from galactic to stellar scales. Inaddition, star formation is a highly stochastic process in which rare andhard-to-predict events, such as the formation of very massive stars and theresulting feedback, can play a dominant role in determining the evolution of astar-forming cloud.As a consequence of the wide range of scales and processes that control starformation, analytic models are usually restricted to highly idealized cases.These can yield insight, but the complexity of the problem means that they mustbe used in concert with large-scale numerical simulations. Here we summarizethe state of modern star formation theory and review the recent advances innumerical simulation techniques.

Autor: Ralf S. Klessen Zentrum fuer Astronomie der Universitaet Heidelberg, Mark R. Krumholz University of California at Santa Cruz, Fab


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