Relative alignment between dense molecular cores and ambient magnetic field: The synergy of numerical models and observations

Che Yu Chen, Erica A. Behrens, Jasmin E. Washington, Laura M. Fissel, Rachel K. Friesen, Zhi Yun Li, Jaime E. Pineda, Adam Ginsburg, Helen Kirk, Samantha Scibelli, Felipe Alves, Elena Redaelli, Paola Caselli, Anna Punanova, James Di Francesco, Erik Rosolowsky, Stella S.R. Offner, Peter G. Martin, Ana Chacon-Tanarro, Hope H.H. ChenMichael C.Y. Chen, Jared Keown, Youngmin Seo, Yancy Shirley, Hector G. Arce, Alyssa A. Goodman, Christopher D. Matzner, Philip C. Myers, Ayushi Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The role played by magnetic field during star formation is an important topic in astrophysics. We investigate the correlation between the orientation of star-forming cores (as defined by the core major axes) and ambient magnetic field directions in (i) a 3D magnetohydrodynamic simulation, (ii) synthetic observations generated from the simulation at different viewing angles, and (iii) observations of nearby molecular clouds. We find that the results on relative alignment between cores and background magnetic field in synthetic observations slightly disagree with those measured in fully 3D simulation data, which is partly because cores identified in projected 2D maps tend to coexist within filamentary structures, while 3D cores are generally more rounded. In addition, we examine the progression of magnetic field from pc to core scale in the simulation, which is consistent with the anisotropic core formation model that gas preferably flows along the magnetic field towards dense cores. When comparing the observed cores identified from the Green Bank Ammonia Survey and Planck polarizationinferredmagnetic field orientations,we find that the relative core-field alignment has a regional dependence among different clouds. More specifically, we find that dense cores in the Taurus molecular cloud tend to align perpendicular to the background magnetic field, while those in Perseus and Ophiuchus tend to have random (Perseus) or slightly parallel (Ophiuchus) orientations with respect to the field.We argue that this feature of relative core-field orientation could be used to probe the relative significance of the magnetic field within the cloud.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1971-1987
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020


  • ISM: Magnetic fields
  • ISM: Structure
  • MHD
  • Polarization
  • Stars: Formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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