The Onset of Star Formation

  • Rudolf Kippenhahn
  • Alfred Weigert
Part of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Library book series (AAL)


Observational evidence favours the picture that stars form out of interstellar matter. Indeed a homogeneous cloud of compressible gas can become gravitationally unstable and collapse. In this section we shall deal with gravitational instability and then discuss some of its consequences. But before we do so it may be worth comparing this instability with those discussed in §25. For gravitational instability the inertia terms are important as well as heat exchange of the collapsing mass with its surroundings. But it is not a vibrational instability, since the classification scheme of §25 holds only if the free-fall time is much shorter than the time-scale of thermal adjustment. As we will see later, just the opposite is the case here.


Star Formation Hydrostatic Equilibrium Gravitational Instability Large Wave Number Isothermal Sphere 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rudolf Kippenhahn
    • 1
  • Alfred Weigert
  1. 1.GöttingenGermany

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