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Statistical properties and correlation length in star-forming molecular clouds. II. Gravitational potential and virial parameter

Abstract : In the first article of this series, we have used the ergodic theory to assess the validity of a statistical approach to characterize various properties of star-forming molecular clouds (MCs) from a limited number of observations or simulations. This allows the proper determination of confidence intervals for various volumetric averages of statistical quantities obtained form observations or numerical simulations. We have shown that these confidence intervals, centered on the statistical average of the given quantity, decrease as the ratio of the correlation length to the size of the sample gets smaller. In this joint paper, we apply the same formalism to a different kind of (observational or numerical) study of MCs. Indeed, as observations cannot fully unravel the complexity of the inner density structure of star forming clouds, it is important to know whether global observable estimates, such as the total mass and size of the cloud, can give an accurate estimation of various key physical quantities that characterize the dynamics of the cloud. Of prime importance is the correct determination of the total gravitational (binding) energy and virial parameter of a cloud. We show that, whereas for clouds that are not in a too advanced stage of star formation, such as Polaris or Orion B, the knowledge of only their mass and size is sufficient to yield an accurate determination of the aforementioned quantities from observations (i.e. in real space). In contrast, we show that this is no longer true for numerical simulations in a periodic box. We derive a relationship for the ratio of the virial parameter in these two respective cases.
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Submitted on : Thursday, September 15, 2022 - 7:51:54 AM
Last modification on : Saturday, September 24, 2022 - 12:02:05 PM

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E. Jaupart, G. Chabrier. Statistical properties and correlation length in star-forming molecular clouds. II. Gravitational potential and virial parameter. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2022, 663, ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/202141087⟩. ⟨insu-03777341⟩

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