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Understanding the structure of molecular clouds : multi-line wide-field imaging of Orion B

Abstract : The new generation of wide-bandwidth high-resolution receivers turns almost any radio observation into a spectral survey. In the case of wide-field imaging of the interstellar medium, such a wealth of data provides new diagnostic tools, but also poses new challenges in terms of data processing and analysis. The ORION-B project aims at observing 5 square degrees of the OB molecular cloud, or about half of the cloud's surface, over the entire 3mm band. The emission of tens of molecular tracers has been mapped, including CO isotopologues, HCO, HCN, HNC, N2H+, methanol, SO, CN...Having access to spatially resolved maps from many molecular species enables us to identify the best tracers of the gas density and illumination. Machine learning techniques have also been applied to these maps, in order to segment the molecular cloud into typical regions based on their molecular emission, and to quantify the most meaningful correlations of different molecular tracers with each other and with physical quantities such as density or dust temperature.The wide-field coverage, together with the spatial and spectral resolution, also allows to characterize statistically the kinematics and dynamics of the gas. The amount of momentum in the compressive and solenoidal (rotational) modes of turbulence are retrieved, showing that the cloud is dominated by solenoidal motions, with the compressive modes being concentrated in two star-forming regions. This result is in line with the overall very low star formation efficiency of the cloud, and highlights the role of compressive forcing in the star formation process.The numerous filaments identified in the molecular cloud also prove to have rather low densities, and are very stable against gravitational collapse. Most filaments are starless, but they show signs of longitudinal and radial fragmentation, which indicates that star formation might occur later on.
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Jan Orkisz. Understanding the structure of molecular clouds : multi-line wide-field imaging of Orion B. Astrophysics [astro-ph]. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018GREAY045⟩. ⟨tel-02046550⟩

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