There has been a wide body of observation comparing and cataloging the properties of dense cores and Young Stellar Objects (YSO) across diverse star formation sites. This evidence suggests that core properties are greatly influenced by their proximity to other YSO and cores, which may be intimately related to the generation and sustenance of supersonic turbulence. Current theoretical thinking connects the IMF to the large-scale turbulence within a GMC. In this picture, the distribution of densities generated within a turbulent medium naturally gives rise to a power-law IMF similar to what is observed at the high end, and a substellar IMF which depends on the degree of turbulence of the parent region. Observation shows that the IMF of stars and prestellar cores are virtually identical, and so study of the initial conditions, properties, and evolution of prestellar cores is vital to answer the above questions.
The image below shows the log column density from a turbulent molecular cloud simulation. The panels show, from left to right, the full simulation, a filament forming cores, and a protostellar disk. Velocity vectors overlay the third panel.
An animation of density volume rendering of a magneto-hydrodynamic simulation showing gas filaments formed in an infrared dark cloud (IRDC) 5 parsecs in size, 800,000 years after the turbulent region began gravitational collapse is created by Tim Sandstrom (NASA visual team). A rotation around the IRDC zooms in on the main filament 4.5 parsecs in length showing a dense molecular core of 0.1 parsec size. Continued simulation of this region shows further collapse, filamentation, protostellar outflows and the early stage formation of a high mass star.