AAS 197, January 2001
Session 112. The Magellanic Clouds
Display, Thursday, January 11, 2001, 9:30-4:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[112.06] A Fractal Analysis of the HI Emission from the Large Magellanic Cloud

B.G. Elmegreen (IBM Watson), S. Kim (CFA), L. Staveley-Smith (ATNF, Australia)

A composite map of HI in the LMC using the ATCA interferometer and the Parkes multibeam telescope was analyzed in several ways in an attempt to characterize the structure of the neutral gas and to find an origin for it. Fourier transform power spectra in 1D, 2D, and in the azimuthal direction were found to be approximate power laws over 2 decades in length. Delta-variance methods also showed the same power-law structure. Detailed models of these data were made using line-of-sight integrals over fractals that are analogous to those generated by simulations of turbulence with and without phase transitions. The results suggested a way to measure directly for the first time the line-of-sight thickness of the cool component of the HI disk of a nearly face-on galaxy. The signature of this thickness was found to be present in all of the measured power spectra.

The character of the HI structure in the LMC was also viewed by comparing positive and negative images of the integrated emission. The geometric structure of the high-emission regions was found to be filamentary, whereas the geometric structure of the low-emission (intercloud) regions was found to be patchy and round. This result suggests that compressive events formed the high-emission regions, and expansion events, whether from explosions or turbulence, formed the low-emission regions. The character of the structure was also investigated as a function of scale using unsharp masks.

All of these results suggest that most of the ISM in the LMC is fractal, presumably the result of pervasive turbulence, self-gravity, and self-similar stirring.

Research supported by NSF Grant AST 9870112 to B.G.E..

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