We discuss the role of turbulence in cloud and star formation, as observed in numerical simulations of the interstellar medium. Turbulent compression at the interfaces of colliding gas streams is responsible for the formation of intermediate ($\simlt 100$ pc) and small clouds (a few tens of pc), although the smallest clouds can also form from fragmentation of expanding shells around stellar heating centers. The largest cloud complexes (several hundred pc) seem to form by slow, gravitational instability-driven merging of individual clouds, which can actually be described as a large-scale tendency towards homogenization of the flow due to gravity rather than cloud collisions. These mechanisms operate as well in the presence of a magnetic field and rotation, although slight variations on the compressibility and cloud morphology are present which depend on the strength and topology of the field. In summary, the role of turbulence in the life-cycle of clouds appears to be twofold: small-scale modes contribute to cloud support, while large-scale modes can both form or disrupt clouds.
Revista Mexicana de Astronomia y Astrofisica Conference Series
- Pub Date:
- December 1995
- Gzipped, tarred Latex file (7 pages), and style file. Uses AAS macros. Gzipped Postscript file with 9 figures available at ftp://kepler.astroscu.unam.mx/incoming/enro/papers/mhdcfsf.ps.gz