The density probability distribution in compressible isothermal turbulence: solenoidal versus compressive forcing

Christoph Federrath, Ralf Klessen, Wolfram Schmidt

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304 Citations (Scopus)


The probability density function (PDF) of the gas density in turbulent supersonic flows is investigated with high-resolution numerical simulations. In a systematic study, we compare the density statistics of compressible turbulence driven by the usually adopted solenoidal forcing (divergence-free) and by compressive forcing (curl-free). Our results are in agreement with studies using solenoidal forcing. However, compressive forcing yields a significantly broader density distribution with standard deviation similar to 3 times larger at the same rms Mach number. The standard deviation-Mach number relation used in analytical models of star formation is reviewed and a modification of the existing expression is proposed, which takes into account the ratio of solenoidal and compressive modes of the turbulence forcing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79 - 82
Number of pages4
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

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