Ambipolar Drift Heating in Turbulent Molecular Clouds

Paolo Padoan, Ellen Zweibel, Ake Nordlund
2000 Astrophysical Journal  
Although thermal pressure is unimportant dynamically in most molecular gas, the temperature is an important diagnostic of dynamical processes and physical conditions. This is the first of two papers on thermal equilibrium in molecular clouds. We present calculations of frictional heating by ion-neutral (or ambipolar) drift in three-dimensional simulations of turbulent, magnetized molecular clouds. We show that ambipolar drift heating is a strong function of position in a turbulent cloud, and
more » ... ulent cloud, and its average value can be significantly larger than the average cosmic ray heating rate. The volume averaged heating rate per unit volume due to ambipolar drift, H_AD ~ |JxB|^2 ~ B^4/L_B^2, is found to depend on the rms Alfvenic Mach number, M_A, and on the average field strength, as H_AD ~ M_A^2<|B|>^4. This implies that the typical scale of variation of the magnetic field, L_B, is inversely proportional to M_A, which we also demonstrate.
doi:10.1086/309299 fatcat:gelymhct6fayzfsxtsnchzjvme