• astrochemistry;
  • molecular processes;
  • turbulence;
  • methods: numerical;
  • ISM: clouds;
  • ISM: molecules


We present results from high-resolution 3D simulations of the turbulent interstellar medium (ISM) that study the influence of the nature of the turbulence on the formation of molecular hydrogen. We have examined both solenoidal (divergence-free) and compressive (curl-free) turbulent driving, and show that compressive driving leads to faster H2 formation, owing to the higher peak densities produced in the gas. The difference in the H2 formation rate can be as much as an order of magnitude at early times, but declines at later times as the highest density regions become fully molecular and stop contributing to the total H2 formation rate. We have also used our results to test a simple prescription suggested by Gnedin et al. for modelling the influence of unresolved density fluctuations on the H2 formation rate in large-scale simulations of the ISM. We find that this approach works well when the H2 fraction is small, but breaks down once the highest density gas becomes fully molecular.