Anchoring magnetic field in turbulent molecular clouds

Hua Bai Li*, C. Darren Dowell, Alyssa Goodman, Roger Hildebrand, Giles Novak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


One of the key problems in star formation research is to determine the role of magnetic fields. Starting from the atomic intercloud medium which has density n H ∼ 1 cm-3, gas must accumulate from a volume several hundred pc across in order to form a typical molecular cloud. Star formation usually occurs in cloud cores, which have linear sizes below 1 pc and densities n H2 > 105 cm-3. With current technologies, it is hard to probe magnetic fields at scales lying between the accumulation length and the size of cloud cores, a range corresponds to many levels of turbulent eddy cascade, and many orders of magnitude of density amplification. For field directions detected from the two extremes, however, we show here that a significant correlation is found. Comparing this result with molecular cloud simulations, only the sub-Alfvénic cases result in field orientations consistent with our observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)891-897
Number of pages7
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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