Star Formation of L1448 in 3D: Does only Gravity matter?
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics & Initiative for Innovative Computing at Harvard, Cambridge, USA
|Our recent advances in the visualization and characterization of complex molecular line emission maps allow us to scrutinize star-forming regions with previously unattained stringency and oversight. In a first study, we apply these methods to 13CO maps of the L1448 region in the Perseus molecular cloud. Specifically, using an innovative structure identification approach geared at hierarchical objects like molecular clouds, we extract and physically characterize (e.g., in terms of mass) features across the full range of spatial scales covered (i.e., 0.1 to 4 pc). Subsequent analysis shows that dense cores preferentially exist in regions of high pressure and density. Interestingly, gravity seems to be of lesser relevance though. Also, using our open source 3D data visualization tools (see http://am.iic.harvard.edu), we also identify filamentary features that seem to influence the aggregation of cores. The formation of cores is possibly triggered by collisions of larger clumps. Finally, our observations indicate that, even in a region as quiescent as L1448, the global impact of stellar winds, radiation, and Hii regions cannot be ignored. If the latter was true, present numerical simulations of molecular clouds do probably miss an important agent of cloud evolution. The above discussion thus also highlights how extensive legacy-style datasets, like our COMPLETE survey, will in future change the way in which research is conducted. Beyond this, it illustrates that these data need to be matched with appropriate software tools, like our 3D visualization suite. Unfortunately, the tools needed are often too complex to be built by astronomers. Our project, which collaborates with medical 3D imaging communities via an interdisciplinary research institute, illustrates a path out of these emerging dilemmas.|