The Structure of the Neutral Interstellar Medium: A Theory of Interstellar Turbulence

Anthony Whitworth
1996 Symposium - International astronomical union  
We present a model for the development of density structure in the neutral interstellar medium. In this model, bulk kinetic energy is injected mainly at small scales, by jets and expanding nebulae generated by young and/or massive stars. Subsequently, this bulk kinetic energy propagates to, and is dissipated on, larger scales.This is in contrast to standard (incompressible) Kolmogorov turbulence, where kinetic energy is injected at larger scales, then propagates to, and is dissipated on,
more » ... scales. The sense in which the Second Law of Thermodynamics drives the propagation of turbulent energy is reversed in the interstellar medium because virialized self-gravitating gas clumps and ensembles of clumps (clouds) have negative effective specific heat.The model is able to explain Larson's relations (between the mass, size, and velocity-dispersion of molecular clouds and clumps; Larson 1981), the maximum masses of giant molecular cloud complexes, the velocity dispersions observed (at low resolution) in face-on spirals like the Milky Way, and the apparent scaling of the interstellar magnetic field with density.
doi:10.1017/s0074180900230374 fatcat:gnevbvx7bbf53luknslrk4hbma