### The density variance - Mach number relation in isothermal and non-isothermal adiabatic turbulence

(5 votes from 4 institutions)

The density variance – Mach number relation of the turbulent interstellar medium is relevant for theoretical models of the star formation rate, efficiency, and the initial mass function of stars. Here we use high-resolution hydrodynamical simulations with grid resolutions of up to 1024^3 cells to model compressible turbulence in a regime similar to the observed interstellar medium. We use Fyris Alpha, a shock-capturing code employing a high-order Godunov scheme to track large density variations induced by shocks. We investigate the robustness of the standard relation between the logarithmic density variance (sigma_s^2) and the sonic Mach number (M) of isothermal interstellar turbulence, in the non-isothermal regime. Specifically, we test ideal gases with diatomic molecular (gamma = 7/5) and monatomic (gamma = 5/3) adiabatic indices. A periodic cube of gas is stirred with purely solenoidal forcing at low wavenumbers, leading to a fully-developed turbulent medium. We find that as the gas heats in adiabatic compressions, it evolves along the relationship in the density variance – Mach number plane, but deviates significantly from the standard expression for isothermal gases. Our main result is a new density variance – Mach number relation that takes the adiabatic index into account: sigma_s^2 = ln {1+b^2*M^[(5*gamma+1)/3]} and provides good fits for b*M <= 1. A theoretical model based on the Rankine-Hugoniot shock jump conditions is derived, sigma_s^2 = ln {1+(gamma+1)*b^2*M^2/[(gamma-1)*b^2*M^2+2]}, and provides good fits also for b*M > 1. We conclude that this new relation for adiabatic turbulence may introduce important corrections to the standard relation, if the gas is not isothermal.