Dense Regions in Supersonic Isothermal Turbulence

Brant Robertson, Peter Goldreich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The properties of supersonic isothermal turbulence influence a variety of astrophysical phenomena, including the structure and evolution of star-forming clouds. This work presents a simple model for the structure of dense regions in turbulence in which the density distribution behind isothermal shocks originates from rough hydrostatic balance between the pressure gradient behind the shock and its deceleration from ram pressure applied by the background fluid. Using simulations of supersonic isothermal turbulence and idealized waves moving through a background medium, we show that the structural properties of dense, shocked regions broadly agree with our analytical model. Our work provides a new conceptual picture for describing the dense regions, which complements theoretical efforts to understand the bulk statistical properties of turbulence and attempts to model the more complex features of star-forming clouds like magnetic fields, self-gravity, or radiative properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number88
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 20 2018


  • ISM: clouds
  • hydrodynamics
  • stars: formation
  • turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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