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We investigate prestellar core formation and accretion based on three-dimensional hydrodynamic simulations Our simulations represent local ∼1 pc regions within giant molecular clouds where a supersonic turbulent flow converges, triggering star formation in the post-shock layer. We include turbulence and self-gravity, applying sink particle techniques, and explore a range of inflow Mach numbers M = 2-16. Two sets of cores are identified and compared: t1 cores are identified from a time snapshot in each simulation and represent dense structures in a single cloud map; tcoll cores are identified at their individual time of collapse and represent the initial mass reservoir for accretion. We find that cores and filaments form and evolve at the same time. At the stage of core collapse, there is a well-defined, converged characteristic mass for isothermal fragmentation that is comparable to the critical BonnorEbert mass at the post-shock pressure. The core mass functions (CMFs) of tcoll cores show a deficit of high-mass cores (≳7 M) compared to the observed stellar initial mass function (IMF). However, the CMFs of t1 cores are similar to the observed CMFs and include many low-mass cores that are gravitationally stable. The difference between t1 cores and tcoll cores suggests that the full sample from observed CMFs may not evolve into protostars. Individual sink particles accrete at a roughly constant rate throughout the simulations, gaining one core mass per freefall time even after the initial mass reservoir is accreted. High-mass sinks gain proportionally more mass at later times than low-mass sinks. There are outbursts in accretion rates, resulting from clumpy density structures falling into the sinks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number31
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 10 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • ISM: structure
  • methods: numerical
  • stars: formation
  • stars: luminosity function, mass function
  • turbulence

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