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Star Formation Thresholds in Galactic Disks  [PDF]
Crystal L. Martin,Robert C. Kennicutt, Jr.
Physics , 2001, DOI: 10.1086/321452
Abstract: We report the first results of a detailed study of the star formation law in a sample of 32 nearby spiral galaxies with well-measured rotation curves, HI and H$_2$ (as traced by CO) surface density profiles, and new \Ha CCD photometry. Our results strongly support the view that the formation of gravitationally bound interstellar clouds regulates the onset of widespread star formation -- at least in the outer regions of galactic disks.
Star formation efficiencies of molecular clouds in a galactic center environment  [PDF]
Erik Bertram,Simon C. O. Glover,Paul C. Clark,Ralf S. Klessen
Physics , 2015,
Abstract: We use the Arepo moving mesh code to simulate the evolution of molecular clouds exposed to a harsh environment similar to that found in the galactic center (GC), in an effort to understand why the star formation efficiency (SFE) of clouds in this environment is so small. Our simulations include a simplified treatment of time-dependent chemistry and account for the highly non-isothermal nature of the gas and the dust. We model clouds with a total mass of 1.3x10^5 M_{sun} and explore the effects of varying the mean cloud density and the virial parameter, alpha = E_{kin}/|E_{pot}|. We vary the latter from alpha = 0.5 to alpha = 8.0, and so many of the clouds that we simulate are gravitationally unbound. We expose our model clouds to an interstellar radiation field (ISRF) and cosmic ray flux (CRF) that are both a factor of 1000 higher than the values found in the solar neighbourhood. As a reference, we also run simulations with local solar neighbourhood values of the ISRF and the CRF in order to better constrain the effects of the extreme conditions in the GC on the SFE. Despite the harsh environment and the large turbulent velocity dispersions adopted, we find that all of the simulated clouds form stars within less than a gravitational free-fall time. Increasing the virial parameter from alpha = 0.5 to alpha = 8.0 decreases the SFE by a factor ~4-10, while increasing the ISRF/CRF by a factor of 1000 decreases the SFE again by a factor ~2-6. However, even in our most unbound clouds, the SFE remains higher than that inferred for real GC clouds. We therefore conclude that high levels of turbulence and strong external heating are not enough by themselves to lead to a persistently low SFE at the center of the Galaxy.
How stellar feedback simultaneously regulates star formation and drives outflows  [PDF]
Christopher C. Hayward,Philip F. Hopkins
Physics , 2015,
Abstract: We present an analytic model for how momentum deposition from stellar feedback simultaneously regulates star formation and drives outflows in a turbulent interstellar medium (ISM). Because the ISM is turbulent, a given patch of ISM exhibits sub-patches with a range of surface densities. The high-density patches are 'pushed' by feedback, thereby driving turbulence and self-regulating local star formation. Sufficiently low-density patches, however, are accelerated to above the escape velocity before the region can self-adjust and are thus vented as outflows. In the turbulent-pressure-supported regime, when the gas fraction is $\gtrsim 0.3$, the ratio of the turbulent velocity dispersion to the circular velocity is sufficiently high that at any given time, of order half of the ISM has surface density less than the critical value and thus can be blown out on a dynamical time. The resulting outflows have a mass-loading factor ($\eta \equiv M_{\rm out}/M_{\star}$) that is inversely proportional to the gas fraction times the circular velocity. At low gas fractions, the star formation rate needed for local self-regulation, and corresponding turbulent Mach number, decline rapidly; the ISM is 'smoother', and it is actually more difficult to drive winds with large mass-loading factors. Crucially, our model predicts that stellar-feedback-driven outflows should be suppressed at $z \lesssim 1$ in $M_{\star} \gtrsim 10^{10} M_{\odot}$ galaxies. This mechanism allows massive galaxies to exhibit violent outflows at high redshifts and then 'shut down' those outflows at late times, thereby enabling the formation of a smooth, extended thin stellar disk. We provide simple fitting functions for $\eta$ that should be useful for sub-resolution and semi-analytic models. [abridged]
Star formation towards the Scutum tangent region and the effects of Galactic environment  [PDF]
D. J. Eden,T. J. T. Moore,R. Plume,L. K. Morgan
Physics , 2012, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2012.20840.x
Abstract: By positional matching to the catalogue of Galactic Ring Survey molecular clouds, we have derived distances to 793 Bolocam Galactic Plane Survey (BGPS) sources out of a possible 806 located within the region defined by Galactic longitudes l = 28.5 degr to 31.5 degr and latitudes |b| < 1 degr. This section of the Galactic Plane contains several major features of Galactic structure at different distances, mainly mid-arm sections of the Perseus and Sagittarius spiral arms and the tangent of the Scutum-Centarus arm, which is coincident with the end of the Galactic Long Bar. By utilising the catalogued cloud distances plus new kinematic distance determinations, we are able to separate the dense BGPS clumps into these three main line-of-sight components to look for variations in star-formation properties that might be related to the different Galactic environments. We find no evidence of any difference in either the clump mass function or the average clump formation efficiency (CFE) between these components that might be attributed to environmental effects on scales comparable to Galactic-structure features. Despite having a very high star-formation rate, and containing at least one cloud with a very high CFE, the star formation associated with the Scutum-Centarus tangent does not appear to be in any way abnormal or different to that in the other two spiral-arm sections. Large variations in the CFE are found on the scale of individual clouds, however, which may be due to local triggering agents as opposed to the large-scale Galactic structure.
On the Physical Origin of Galactic Conformity  [PDF]
Andrew P. Hearin,Peter S. Behroozi,Frank C. van den Bosch
Physics , 2015,
Abstract: Correlations between the star formation rates (SFRs) of nearby galaxies (so-called galactic conformity) have been observed for projected separations up to 4 Mpc, an effect not predicted by current semi-analytic models. We investigate correlations between the mass accretion rates (dMvir/dt) of nearby halos as a potential physical origin for this effect. We find that pairs of host halos "know about" each others' assembly histories even when their present-day separation is greater than thirty times the virial radius of either halo. These distances are far too large for direct interaction between the halos to explain the correlation in their dMvir/dt. Instead, halo pairs at these distances reside in the same large-scale tidal environment, which regulates dMvir/dt for both halos. Larger halos are less affected by external forces, which naturally gives rise to a mass dependence of the halo conformity signal. SDSS measurements of galactic conformity exhibit a qualitatively similar dependence on stellar mass, including how the signal varies with distance. Based on the expectation that halo accretion and galaxy SFR are correlated, we predict the scale-, mass- and redshift-dependence of large-scale galactic conformity, finding that the signal should drop to undetectable levels by z > 1. These predictions are testable with current surveys to z ~ 1; confirmation would establish a strong correlation between dark matter halo accretion rate and central galaxy SFR.
The Imprints Of Galactic Environment On Cluster Formation and Evolution  [PDF]
Angela Adamo
Physics , 2015,
Abstract: Young star clusters (YSCs) appear to be a ubiquitous product of star formation in local galaxies, thus, they can be used to study the star formation process at work in their host galaxies. Moreover, YSCs are intrinsically brighter that single stars, potentially becoming the most important tracers of the recent star formation history in galaxies in the local Universe. In local galaxies, we also witness the presence of a large population of evolved star clusters, commonly called globular clusters (GCs). GCs peak formation history is very close to the redshift (z~2) when the cosmic star formation history reached the maximum. Therefore, GCs are usually associated to extreme star formation episodes in high-redshift galaxies. It is yet not clear whether YSCs and GCs share a similar formation process (same physics under different interstellar medium conditions) and evolution process, and whether the former can be used as progenitor analogs of the latter. In this invited contribution, I review general properties of YSC populations in local galaxies. I will summarise some of the current open questions in the field, with particular emphasis to whether or not galactic environments, where YSCs form, leave imprints on the nested populations. The importance of this rapidly developing field can be crucial in understanding GC formation and possibly the galactic environment condition where this ancient population formed.
The small and the beautiful: How the star formation law affects galactic disk structure  [PDF]
Harald Braun,Wolfram Schmidt
Physics , 2015,
Abstract: We investigate the influence of different analytical parameterizations and fit functions for the local star formation rate in AMR simulations of an isolated disk galaxy with the Nyx code. Such parameterizations express the star formation efficiency as function of the local turbulent Mach number and virial parameter. By employing the method of adaptively refined large eddy simulations, we are able to evaluate these physical parameters from the numerically unresolved turbulent energy associated with the grid scale. We consider both single and multi free-fall variants of star formation laws proposed by Padoan & Nordlund, Hennebelle & Chabrier, and Krumholz & McKee, summarised and tested recently with numerical simulations by Federrath & Klessen. We find that the global star formation rate and the relation between the local star formation rate and the gas column density is reproduced in agreement with observational constraints by all multi free-fall models of star formation. Some models with obsolete calibration or a single free-fall time scale, however, result in an overly clumpy disk that does not resemble the structure of observed spirals.
How many young star clusters exist in the Galactic center?  [PDF]
Simon Portegies Zwart,Junichiro Makino,Stephen McMillan,Piet Hut
Physics , 2000, DOI: 10.1086/318869
Abstract: We study the evolution and observability of young compact star clusters within about 200pc of the Galactic center. Calculations are performed using direct N-body integration on the GRAPE-4, including the effects of both stellar and binary evolution and the external influence of the Galaxy. The results of these detailed calculations are used to calibrate a simplified model applicable over a wider range of cluster initial conditions. We find that clusters within 200 pc from the Galactic center dissolve within about 70 Myr. However, their projected densities drop below the background density in the direction of the Galactic center within 20 Myr, effectively making these clusters undetectable after that time. Clusters farther from the Galactic center but at the same projected distance are more strongly affected by this selection effect, and may go undetected for their entire lifetimes. Based on these findings, we conclude that the region within 200 pc of the Galactic center could easily harbor some 50 clusters with properties similar to those of the Arches or the Quintuplet systems.
Star Formation at the Galactic Center  [PDF]
Marco Fatuzzo,Fulvio Melia
Physics , 2009, DOI: 10.1086/603529
Abstract: Molecular clouds at the Galactic center (GC) have environments considerably different from their disk counterparts. The GC may therefore provide important clues about how the environment affects star formation. Interestingly, while the inner 50 parsecs of our Galaxy include a remarkable population of high-mass stars, the initial mass function (IMF) appears to be consistent with a Salpeter slope down to ~ 1 solar mass. We show here that the loss of turbulent pressure due to ambipolar diffusion and the damping of Alfven and fast MHD waves can lead to the formation of dense condensations exceeding their Jeans limit. The fragmentation and subsequent collapse of these condensations is similar to the diffusion-driven protostellar collapse mechanism expected to occur within nearby "regular" molecular clouds. As such, a Salpeter IMF at the GC is not surprising, though the short dynamical timescales associated with the GC molecular clouds may help explain the lower star formation efficiency observed from this region.
The molecular environment of the Galactic star forming region G19.61-0.23  [PDF]
G. Santangelo,L. Testi,S. Leurini,C. M. Walmsley,R. Cesaroni,L. Bronfman,S. Carey,L. Gregorini,K. M. Menten,S. Molinari,A. Noriega-Crespo,L. Olmi,F. Schuller
Physics , 2010, DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201014177
Abstract: We present single-dish (sub)millimeter observations of gas and dust in the Galactic high-mass star-forming region G19.61-0.23, with the aim of studying the large-scale properties and physical conditions of the molecular gas across the region. The final aim is to compare the large-scale (about 100 pc) properties with the small-scale (about 3 pc) properties and to consider possible implications for extragalactic studies. We have mapped CO isotopologues in the J=1-0 transition using the FCRAO-14m telescope and the J=2-1 transition using the IRAM-30m telescope. We have also used data from the ATLASGAL survey and from the BU-FCRAO Galactic Ring Survey, as well as the Spitzer infrared Galactic plane surveys GLIMPSE and MIPSGAL to characterize the star-formation activity within the molecular clouds. We reveal a population of molecular clumps in the 13CO(1-0) emission. Our analysis of the 13CO suggests that the virial parameter (ratio of kinetic to gravitational energy) varies over an order of magnitude between clumps that are unbound and some that are apparently "unstable". This conclusion is independent of whether they show evidence of ongoing star formation. We find that the majority of ATLASGAL sources have MIPSGAL counterparts with luminosities in the range 10^4 - 5 10^4 Lsun and are presumably forming relatively massive stars. We compare our results with previous extragalactic studies of the nearby spiral galaxies M31 and M33; and the blue compact dwarf galaxy Henize2-10. We find that the main giant molecular cloud surrounding G19.61-0.23 has physical properties typical for Galactic GMCs and which are comparable to the GMCs in M31 and M33. However, the GMC studied here shows smaller surface densities and masses than the clouds identified in Henize2-10 and associated with super star cluster formation.
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