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Rapid elimination of small dust grains in molecular clouds

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Silsbee,  Kedron
Center for Astrochemical Studies at MPE, MPI for Extraterrestrial Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Ivlev,  Alexej V.
Center for Astrochemical Studies at MPE, MPI for Extraterrestrial Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Sipilä,  Olli
Center for Astrochemical Studies at MPE, MPI for Extraterrestrial Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Caselli,  Paola
Center for Astrochemical Studies at MPE, MPI for Extraterrestrial Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Zhao,  Bo
Center for Astrochemical Studies at MPE, MPI for Extraterrestrial Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Silsbee, K., Ivlev, A. V., Sipilä, O., Caselli, P., & Zhao, B. (2020). Rapid elimination of small dust grains in molecular clouds. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 641: A39. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/202038063.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-7FE0-E
Abstract
We argue that impact velocities between dust grains with sizes of less than ∼0.1 μm in molecular cloud cores are dominated by drift arising from ambipolar diffusion. This effect is due to the size dependence of the dust coupling to the magnetic field and the neutral gas. Assuming perfect sticking in collisions up to ≈50 m s−1, we show that this effect causes rapid depletion of small grains, consistent with starlight extinction and IR and microwave emission measurements, both in the core center (n ∼ 106 cm−3) and envelope (n ∼ 104 cm−3). The upper end of the size distribution does not change significantly if only velocities arising from this effect are considered. We consider the impact of an evolved grain-size distribution on the gas temperature, and argue that if the depletion of small dust grains occurs as expected from our model, then the cosmic ray ionization rate must be well below 10−16 s−1 at a number density of 105 cm−3.