Special Reviews

Isolated Star Formation: From Cloud Formation to Core Collapse

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Science  04 Jan 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5552, pp. 76-81
DOI: 10.1126/science.1067354

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The formation of stars is one of the most fundamental problems in astrophysics, as it underlies many other questions, on scales from the formation of galaxies to the formation of the solar system. The physical processes involve the turbulent behavior of a partially ionized medium containing a non-uniform magnetic field. Current debate centers around the time taken for turbulence to decay and the relative importance of the roles played by magnetic fields and turbulence. Technological advances such as millimeter-wave cameras have made possible observations of the temperature and density profiles, and statistical calculations of the lifetimes, of objects collapsing under their own self-gravity and those on the verge of collapse. Increased computing power allows more complex models to be made that include magnetic and turbulent effects. No current model can reproduce all of the observations.

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