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Astron. Astrophys. 332, L5-L8 (1998)

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4. Conclusions

We conclude that the Rosette elephant trunks form an interconnected system where the magnetic field is the unifying agent. The helical structure of the trunk studied here shows that the magnetic fields are, at least partly, rope-like. The associated electric currents are likely to be force-free and our model of a force-free helical cable system on a cylinder surface matches well the observed configuration and the wavelength of the sinusoidal filaments. It is possible that the elephant trunks are relics from filamentary skeletons of magnetic fields that existed in the primordial molecular cloud. The possibility that the trunk system existed before the H II  region has been brought up also by Blitz & Thaddeus (1980). Some evolution caused by the activity of the central stars has, however, certainly taken place in the form of stretching, twisting, tangling, and erosion of the dark structures.

Generalizing the above, we propose that magnetic fields, with associated electric currents, may have decisive influence on the structure and evolution of interstellar molecular clouds.

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: March 10, 1998
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