A dynamical origin of the IMF

Supervisor: Alvaro Hacar and Joao Alves (Institute for Astrophysics, IfA-Vienna)

Funding Situation: potentially via a VISESS PhD fellowship

Project outline: Most of the stars in the Universe are formed following a precise mass distribution known as the Initial Mass Function (IMF). Still, the origin of this stellar mass distribution is one of the major open questions in astrophysics. Different surveys in nearby clouds suggest that the IMF may be originated from a pre-existing distribution of dense gas clumps, namely, the Core Mass Function (CMF). The connection between the IMF and CMF implies a direct and uniform conversion between the initial (cores) and final (stars) gas masses with constant efficiency. This static description also assumes the cores as single objects isolated from their environment. On the contrary, recent observations demonstrate that most dense cores are originated inside filaments. The fragmentation process of these filaments connects the cores with their environments and provides with a more dynamical environment than previously thought. For the first time, this PhD project aims to connect the physical evolution of the gas during the entire formation process of cores and stars in different mass regimes. Using ALMA observations of large core populations in clouds such as Orion, this project will statistically characterise the gas fragmentation, accretion, and collapse processes at scales of >10^5 AU (filaments), ~10^4 (cores) and 100 AU (disks + stars). This project aims to provide a first dynamical description of the conversion of gas (CMF) and stars (IMF). This PhD project will be carried out in collaboration with the EMERGE ERC-StG team (see emerge.alvarohacar.com).