Fragmentation and Structure Formation
I present an overview of the hierarchy of structures existing in the interstellar medium (ISM) and the possible mechanisms that cause the fragmentation of one level into the next, with the formation of stars as its last step. Within this framework, I then give an overview of the contributions to this session. Numerical work addresses, at the largest scales, the shaping and formation of structures in the ISM through turbulence driven by stellar energy injection, and the resulting star formation rate as a function of mean density. At the scales of molecular clouds, results comparing observational and numerical data on the density and velocity structure of turbulence-produced cores, as well as their mass spectra, are summarized, together with existing theories of core and star formation controlled by the turbulence. Observationally, an attempt to discriminate between the standard and turbulent models of star formation is presented, finding inconclusive results, but suggesting that both turbulence and the magnetic field are dynamically important in molecular clouds and their cores. Finally, various determinations of the magnetic field strength and geometry are also presented.
KeywordsISM cloud formation star formation
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