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Evidence for dynamically important magnetic fields in molecular clouds



Present address: US Army Research Laboratory, 2800 Powder Mill Road, Adelphi, MD 20783, USA.


Recent observational evidence that magnetic fields are dynamically important in molecular clouds, compared to self-gravity and turbulence, is reviewed and illustrated with data from the NGC 2024 region. One piece of evidence, turbulence anisotropy, was found in the diffuse envelope of a cloud (Av≈ 1; Heyer et al. 2008); our data further suggest turbulence anisotropy in the cloud (Av > 7) and even near the cloud core (Av∼ 100). The data also show that magnetic fields can channel gravitational contraction even for a region with supercritical N(H2)/2Blos ratio (the ratio between the observed column density and two times the line-of-sight observed field strength), a parameter which has been widely used by observers to estimate core mass-to-flux ratios. Although the mass-to-flux ratio is constant under the flux-freezing condition, we show that N(H2)/2Blos grows with time if gravitational contraction is anisotropic due to magnetic fields.