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A New Approach to Turbulence: The Origins of ISM Structure, Stellar Clustering and the IMF, and (perhaps?) Planet Formation

Event Details

Event Dates: 

Monday, November 17, 2014 - 4:00pm

Seminar Location: 

  • JILA Auditorium

Speaker Name(s): 

Phil Hopkins

Speaker Affiliation(s): 

Caltech
Seminar Type/Subject

Scientific Seminar Type: 

  • Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences Seminar

Event Details & Abstract: 

The ISM is a chaotic, highly nonlinear system in which super-sonic turbulence, gravity, accretion, and "feedback" play critical roles. Yet there is remarkable regularity in certain properties. I'll discuss how many observed properties of the ISM can be understood as a fundamental consequence of super-sonic turbulence in a rapidly cooling, self-gravitating medium. In doing so, I'll show how analytic methods used in cosmology to describe the formation of large-scale structure can be applied to understand the origins of structure in the ISM, including the mass function and structural properties of giant molecular clouds, the stellar initial mass function, the clustering of star formation, and the formation of planets via "direct collapse" (gravitational instability). This can be used to study time-dependent evolution of structure even in highly non-linear systems, allowing us to understand many emergent properties of simulations with turbulence and gravity. I'll briefly discuss the role of "feedback" from stars, in the forms of radiation pressure, photoionization, and supernovae, which regulates the thermal and turbulent state of the gas