Determining the Fractal Dimension of the Interstellar Medium

Sánchez, N., Alfaro, E.J., Pérez, E.
XII Latin American IAU Regional Meeting (Eds. G. Magris, G. Bruzual, & L. Carigi) Revista Mexicana de Astronomía y Astrofísica (Serie de Conferencias) Vol. 35, pp. 76-77 (2009)


The interstellar medium seems to have an underlying fractal structure, which can be characterized through its fractal dimension (D_f). However, several factors may affect the determination of D_f, such as distortions due to projection, low image resolution, opacity of the cloud, and low signal-to-noise ratio. Here we use both simulated clouds and real molecular cloud maps to study these effects in order to estimate D_f in a reliable way. Our results indicate in a self-consistent way that the fractal dimension of the interstellar medium is in the range 2.6 ≲ D_{f} ≲ 2.8, which is significantly higher than the value D_f ≃ 2.3 usually assumed in the literature.