UCB - Astronomy
Molecular clouds are typically observed to be approximately virialized with gravitational and turbulent energy in balance, yielding a star formation rate of a few percent. The origin and characteristics of the observed supersonic turbulence are poorly understood, and without continued energy injection the turbulence is predicted to decay within a cloud dynamical time. Recent observations and analytic work have suggested a strong connection between the initial stellar mass function, the core mass function, and turbulence characteristics. The role of magnetic fields in determining core lifetimes, shapes, and kinematic properties remains hotly debated. Simulations are a formidable tool for studying the complex process of star formation and addressing these puzzles. I present my results modeling low-mass star formation using the ORION adaptive mesh refinement (AMR) code. I investigate the properties of forming cores and protostars in simulations in which the turbulence is driven to maintain virial balance and where it is allowed to decay. I will discuss simulated observations of cores in dust emission and in molecular tracers and compare to observations of local star-forming clouds. I will also present results from ORION cluster simulations including flux-limited diffusion radiative transfer and show that radiative feedback, even from low-mass stars, has a significant effect on core fragmentation, disk properties, and the IMF. Finally, I will discuss the new simulation frontier of AMR multigroup radiative transfer.