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Fragmentation of Molecular Clouds: The Initial Phase of a Stellar Cluster

Research paper by Ralf S. Klessen, Andreas Burkert, Matthew R. Bate

Indexed on: 11 May '98Published on: 11 May '98Published in: Astrophysics



Abstract

The isothermal gravitational collapse and fragmentation of a region within a molecular cloud and the subsequent formation of a protostellar cluster is investigated numerically. The clump mass spectrum which forms during the fragmentation phase can be well approximated by a power law distribution dN/dM ~ M^(-1.5). In contrast, the mass spectrum of protostellar cores that form in the centers of Jeans-unstable clumps and evolve through accretion and N-body interactions is described by a log-normal distribution with a width that is in excellent agreement with observations of multiple stellar systems.