ARI paper features in Nature 'Research Highlights'
Nature magazine 'Research Highlights' section this week (article here) features a paper (paper here) by a team including ARI's Dr Steve Longmore led by Francesco Fontani from Arcetri Observatory. It details the finding of a massive, dense molecular gas cloud which is breaking up during gravitational collapse into a population of multiple fragments, the mass and the spatial distribution of which are consistent with magnetic support controlling the fragmentation, rather than just gravity and turbulence as commonly assumed.
In the figure below the top-left panel shows our previous highest-resolution [pc-scale] image of a gas cloud hosting a very young stellar proto-cluster. The bottom-right panel shows a very high resolution and sensitivity ALMA observation zoom-in of the gas distribution within the proto-cluster. These observations resolve multiple proto-stars aligned along a filament. The mass and spacing of these proto-stars is consistent with magnetically-dominant fragmentation of the parent gas cloud. This shows magnetic fields must be taken into account when considering the formation of protoclusters, not just gravity and turbulence as assumed by many existing theories.