Is the dust-to-gas ratio constant in molecular clouds?

Terrence Stanislaus Tricco, Daniel Price, Guillaume Laibe

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We perform numerical simulations of dusty, supersonic turbulence in molecular clouds. We model 0.1, 1 and 10 μm sized dust grains at an initial dust-to-gas mass ratio of 1:100, solving the equations of combined gas and dust dynamics where the dust is coupled to the gas through a drag term. We show that, for 0.1 and 1 μm grains, the dust-to-gas ratio deviates by typically 10–20 per cent from the mean, since the stopping time of the dust due to the gas drag is short compared to the dynamical time. Contrary to previous findings, we find no evidence for orders of magnitude fluctuation in the dust-to-gas ratio for ∼0.1 μm grains. Larger, 10 μm dust grains may have dust-to-gas ratios increased by up to an order of magnitude locally. Both small (0.1 μm) and large (≳1 μm) grains trace the large-scale morphology of the gas; however, we find evidence for ‘size-sorting’ of grains, where turbulence preferentially concentrates larger grains into dense regions. Size-sorting may help to explain observations of ‘coreshine’ from dark clouds and why extinction laws differ along lines of sight through molecular clouds in the Milky Way compared to the diffuse interstellar medium.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L52-L56
Number of pages5
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017

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