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Title: Evolution of giant molecular clouds across cosmic time
ABSTRACT Giant molecular clouds (GMCs) are well studied in the local Universe, however, exactly how their properties vary during galaxy evolution is poorly understood due to challenging resolution requirements, both observational and computational. We present the first time-dependent analysis of GMCs in a Milky Way-like galaxy and an Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC)-like dwarf galaxy of the FIRE-2 (Feedback In Realistic Environments) simulation suite, which have sufficient resolution to predict the bulk properties of GMCs in cosmological galaxy formation self-consistently. We show explicitly that the majority of star formation outside the galactic centre occurs within self-gravitating gas structures that have properties consistent with observed bound GMCs. We find that the typical cloud bulk properties such as mass and surface density do not vary more than a factor of 2 in any systematic way after the first Gyr of cosmic evolution within a given galaxy from its progenitor. While the median properties are constant, the tails of the distributions can briefly undergo drastic changes, which can produce very massive and dense self-gravitating gas clouds. Once the galaxy forms, we identify only two systematic trends in bulk properties over cosmic time: a steady increase in metallicity produced by previous stellar populations and a more » weak decrease in bulk cloud temperatures. With the exception of metallicity, we find no significant differences in cloud properties between the Milky Way-like and dwarf galaxies. These results have important implications for cosmological star and star cluster formation and put especially strong constraints on theories relating the stellar initial mass function to cloud properties. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1748571 1752913 1715216 1652522
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10166289
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume:
492
Issue:
1
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
488 to 502
ISSN:
0035-8711
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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