Wednesday, July 31, 2013

1307.7869 (Takuhiro Aota et al.)

Thermal Instability behind a Shock Wave in HI and Molecular Clouds    [PDF]

Takuhiro Aota, Tsuyoshi Inoue, Yuri Aikawa
We performed one-dimensional hydrodynamic simulations with detailed cooling, heating and chemical processes to examine the thermal stability of shocked gas in cold neutral medium (CNM) and molecular clouds. We find that both CNM and molecular clouds can be thermally unstable in the cooling layer behind the shock wave. The characteristic wavelength of the thermal instability ranges from 10^-5 pc to 0.1 pc in the CNM, and from 10^-7 pc to 0.1 pc in the molecular clouds. This coincides with the size of observed tiny scale structures in the CNM and molecular clouds, indicating that the thermal instability in the shocked gas could be a formation mechanism of these tiny structures in the interstellar medium. We have also calculated the e-folding number of the thermal instability to estimate the amplification of the density fluctuation in the shocked gas. Density perturbations in the CNM grow by a factor of exp(5)~150, whereas the perturbations in the molecular clouds grow only by a factor of a few behind a high Mach number shock. The amplification factor is larger at lower densities and higher velocities. Formation of very small-scale structures by thermal instability in shocked gas is more effective in lower densities.
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