An interstellar filament may be defined as any elongated structure in the cold interstellar medium which has an aspect ratio larger than ∼5–10 and is significantly overdense with respect to its surroundings.
The presence of parsec-scale filamentary structures in nearby interstellar clouds and their potential importance for star formation have been pointed out by many authors for more than three decades. For example, Schneider and Elmegreen (1979) discussed the properties of 23 elongated dark nebulae, visible on optical plates and showing evidence of marked condensations or internal globules along their lengths, which they named “globular filaments.”
Recent studies of the nearest star-forming clouds of the galaxy at submillimeter wavelengths with the Herschel Space Observatory have provided us with unprecedented images of the initial conditions and early phases of the star formation process. The Herschelimages reveal an intricate network of filamentary...
KeywordsStar Formation Molecular Cloud Column Density Star Formation Rate Filamentary Structure
References and Further Reading
- André P, Di Francesco J, Ward-Thompson D, Inutsuka S, Pudritz R, Pineda J (2014) From filamentary networks to dense cores in molecular clouds: toward a new paradigm for star formation. In: Beuther H (ed) Protostars and planets VI. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, in press (astro-ph/1312.6232)Google Scholar