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Thermal condensation in a turbulent atomic hydrogen flow

Abstract : We present a numerical and analytical study of the thermal fragmentation of a turbulent flow of interstellar hydrogen. We first present the different dynamical processes and the large range of spatial (and temporal) scales that need to be adequately represented in numerical simulations. Next, we present bidimensionnal simulations of turbulent converging flows which induce the dynamical condensation of the warm neutral phase into the cold phase. We then analyse the cold structures and the fraction of unstable gas in each simulation, paying particular attention to the influence of the degree of turbulence. When the flow is very turbulent a large fraction of the gas remains in the thermally unstable domain. This unstable gas forms a filamentary network. We show that the fraction of thermally unstable gas is strongly correlated with the level of turbulence of the flow. We then develop a semi-analytical model to explain the origin of this unstable gas. This simple model is able to reproduce quantitatively the fraction of unstable gas observed in the simulations and its correlation with turbulence. Finally, we stress the fact that even when the flow is very turbulent and in spite of the fact that a large fraction of the gas is maintained dynamically in the thermally unstable domain, the classical picture of a 2-phase medium with stiff thermal fronts and local pressure equilibrium turns out to be still relevant in the vicinity of the cold structures.
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Submitted on : Sunday, September 4, 2005 - 11:19:22 AM
Last modification on : Sunday, February 18, 2018 - 9:26:27 AM

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E. Audit, P. Hennebelle. Thermal condensation in a turbulent atomic hydrogen flow. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2005, 433, pp.1-13. ⟨hal-00008406⟩



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