Two Regimes of Turbulent Fragmentation and the Stellar Initial Mass Function from Primordial to Present-Day Star Formation
The Padoan and Nordlund model of the stellar initial mass function (IMF) is derived from low-order statistics of supersonic turbulence, neglecting gravity (e.g., gravitational fragmentation, accretion, and merging). In this work, the predictions of that model are tested using the largest numerical experiments of supersonic hydrodynamic (HD) and magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulence to date (~10003 computational zones) and three different codes (Enzo, Zeus, and the Stagger code). The model predicts a power-law distribution for large masses, related to the turbulence-energy power-spectrum slope and the shock-jump conditions. This power-law mass distribution is confirmed by the numerical experiments. The model also predicts a sharp difference between the HD and MHD regimes, which is recovered in the experiments as well, implying that the magnetic field, even below energy equipartition on the large scale, is a crucial component of the process of turbulent fragmentation. These results suggest that the stellar IMF of primordial stars may differ from that in later epochs of star formation, due to differences in both gas temperature and magnetic field strength. In particular, we find that the IMF of primordial stars born in turbulent clouds may be narrowly peaked around a mass of order 10 Msolar, as long as the column density of such clouds is not much in excess of 1022 cm-2.