Three-dimensional Simulation of Magnetized Cloud Fragmentation Induced by Nonlinear Flows and Ambipolar Diffusion

Kudoh, Takahiro
Basu, Shantanu
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We demonstrate that the formation of collapsing cores in subcritical clouds is accelerated by nonlinear flows, by performing three-dimensional non-ideal MHD simulations. An initial random supersonic (and trans-Alfvenic) turbulent-like flow is input into a self-gravitating gas layer that is threaded by a uniform magnetic field (perpendicular to the layer) such that the initial mass-to-flux ratio is subcritical. Magnetic ambipolar diffusion occurs very rapidly initially due to the sharp gradients introduced by the turbulent flow. It subsequently occurs more slowly in the traditional near-quasistatic manner, but in regions of greater mean density than present in the initial state. The overall timescale for runaway growth of the first core(s) is several times, 10^6 yr, even though previous studies have found a timescale of several times, 10^7 yr when starting with linear perturbations and similar physical parameters. Large-scale supersonic flows exist in the cloud and provide an observationally testable distinguishing characteristic from core formation due to linear initial perturbations. However, the nonlinear flows have decayed sufficiently that the relative infall motions onto the first core are subsonic, as in the case of starting from linear initial perturbations. The ion infall motions are very similar to those of neutrals; however, they lag the neutral infall in directions perpendicular to the mean magnetic field direction and lead the neutral infall in the direction parallel to the mean magnetic field.
Comment: 12 pages, 4 figures, accepted for publication in ApJL, a preprint and a movie at