For a long time, the conventional wisdom has been that "clustered star formation" and "isolated (or distributed) star formation" represent two fundamentally distinct modes of the star formation process. Recent detailed infrared studies of the spatial distribution of young stellar objects (YSOs) in the solar neighborhood, however, suggest that there is a continuous distribution of YSO surface densities from a diffuse population to the densest groups or clusters, with no evidence for discrete modes of star formation (e.g. Bressert et al. 2010). Based on the results of the Herschel Gould Belt survey (http://gouldbelt-herschel.cea.fr
) toward the nearest regions of "clustered" and "distributed" star formation, including the Ophiuchus and Taurus clouds, we will show how these two seemingly opposing views can be reconciled.
The Herschel results point to the key role of the quasi-universal filamentary structure pervading the cold ISM (cf. André et al. 2014, Protostars and Planets VI). Indeed, a large fraction of the dense molecular gas is found to be in the form of filaments and most prestellar cores are located within dense, "supercritical" filaments. To a large extent, therefore, the spatial distribution of YSOs is inherited from the filamentary texture of molecular clouds, which is partly hierarchical and shaped by a combination of turbulent, magnetic, and gravitational effects. Wherever gravity dominates on large scales, a "hub-filament" system develops (cf. Myers 2009) and a protocluster is generated at the "hub" or junction of a converging network of filaments. More distributed star formation occurs along individual filaments with marginally supercritical masses per unit length.