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On the Star Formation Rates in Molecular Clouds

posted Jan 26, 2011, 11:07 AM by João Alves   [ updated Apr 26, 2011, 2:56 PM ]
Both the yield and rate of star formation can vary considerably in clouds, independent of their mass and size, but above a certain threshold in column density clouds become predictable. In this paper we find that the star formation rate is proportional to the cloud mass above an extinction threshold of AK ≈ 0.8 mag, corresponding to a gas surface density threshold of Σgas ≈ 116M pc2. (or volume densities about 104 cm-3). In other words, once you have dense gas you have stars. The more dense gas you have, the more the stars you'll produce. Understanding star formation is understanding how nature transforms diffuse gas into dense gas. Easy.