Power-law tails in probability density functions of molecular cloud column density
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Oxford University Press for Royal Astronomical Society
Power-law tails are often seen in probability density functions (PDFs) of molecular cloud column densities, and have been attributed to the effect of gravity. We show that extinction PDFs of a sample of five molecular clouds obtained at a few tenths of a parsec resolution, probing extinctions up to AV ∼ 10 mag, are very well described by lognormal functions provided that the field selection is tightly constrained to the cold, molecular zone and that noise and foreground contamination are appropriately accounted for. In general, field selections that incorporate warm, diffuse material in addition to the cold, molecular material will display apparent core+tail PDFs. The apparent tail, however, is best understood as the high extinction part of a lognormal PDF arising from the cold, molecular part of the cloud. We also describe the effects of noise and foreground/background contamination on the PDF structure, and show that these can, if not appropriately accounted for, induce spurious tails or amplify any that are truly present.
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
ERC: European Research Council
This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Copyright © 2015 The Author Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Vol. 449 (4), pp. 4465-4475