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3. Filamentary structure in molecular clouds revealed by Herschel

Molecular clouds in our galaxy, from star-forming regions to unbound translucent clouds, bear a complex filamentary structure1, highlighted by the unprecedented sensitivity and resolution of Herschel space observatory2 recent observations3,4. Prestellar cores uncovered by Herschel show a preferential location within gravitationally unstable filaments5,6, suggesting that the initial conditions for star formation to occur are set in these structures. Identifying the processes responsible for the fragmentation of molecular clouds into dense filaments and their subsequent evolution is therefore paramount to the understanding of core formation, and ultimately, the dependence of core and stellar masses on the large-scale properties of the interstellar medium. At the Herschel Science Centre we are analysing the filamentary structure in one of the nearby star forming regions. Stay tuned for the upcoming results!



References: 1. Schneider & Elmegreen 1979; 2. Pilbratt et al. 2010; 3. Andre et al. 2010; 4. Molinari et al. 2010; 5. Bontemps et al. 2010; 6. Arzoumanian et al. 2011.









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