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Was a cloud-cloud collision the trigger of the recent star formation in Serpens?

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Preprint
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DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201015477
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arXiv
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Abstract

The complexity of the ISM is such that it is unlikely that star formation is initiated in the same way in all molecular clouds. While some clouds seem to collapse on their own, others may be triggered by an external event such as a cloud/flow collision forming a gravitationally unstable enhanced density layer. This work tests cloud-cloud collisions as the triggering mechanism for star formation in the Serpens Main Cluster as has been suggested by previous work. A set of smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) simulations of the collision between two cylindrical clouds are performed and compared to (sub)millimetre observations of the Serpens Main Cluster. A configuration has been found which reproduces many of the observed characteristics of Serpens, including some of the main features of the peculiar velocity field. The evolution of the velocity with position throughout the model is similar to that observed and the column density and masses within the modeled cloud agree with those measured for the SE sub-cluster. Furthermore, our results also show that an asymmetric collision provides the ingredients to reproduce lower density filaments perpendicular to the main structure, similar to those observed. In this scenario, the formation of the NW sub-cluster of Serpens can be reproduced only if there is a pre-existing marginally gravitationally unstable region at the time the collision occurs. This work supports the interpretation that a collision between two clouds may have been the trigger of the most recent burst of star formation in Serpens. It not only explains the complicated velocity structure seen in the region, but also the temperature differences between the north (in "isolated" collapse) and the south (resulting from the shock between the clouds). In addition it provides an explanation for the sources in the south having a larger spread in age than those in the north.

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