The Fractal Dimension of Projected Clouds

The Astrophysical Journal (Impact Factor: 6.73). 02/2005; DOI: 10.1086/429553
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT The interstellar medium seems to have an underlying fractal structure which can be characterized through its fractal dimension. However, interstellar clouds are observed as projected two-dimensional images, and the projection of a tri-dimensional fractal distorts its measured properties. Here we use simulated fractal clouds to study the relationship between the tri-dimensional fractal dimension (D_f) of modeled clouds and the dimension resulting from their projected images. We analyze different fractal dimension estimators: the correlation and mass dimensions of the clouds, and the perimeter-based dimension of their boundaries (D_per). We find the functional forms relating D_f with the projected fractal dimensions, as well as the dependence on the image resolution, which allow to estimatethe "real" D_f value of a cloud from its projection. The application of these results to Orion A indicates in a self-consistent way that 2.5 < D_f < 2.7 for this molecular cloud, a value higher than the result D_per+1 = 2.3 some times assumed in literature for interstellar clouds.

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