skip to main content

Title: SEDIGISM-ATLASGAL: dense gas fraction and star formation efficiency across the Galactic disc
By combining two surveys covering a large fraction of the molecular material in the Galactic disc, we investigate the role spiral arms play in the star formation process. We have matched clumps identified by APEX Telescope Large Area Survey of the Galaxy (ATLASGAL) with their parental giant molecular clouds (GMCs) as identified by SEDIGISM, and use these GMC masses, the bolometric luminosities, and integrated clump masses obtained in a concurrent paper to estimate the dense gas fractions (DGFgmc = ∑Mclump/Mgmc) and the instantaneous star formation efficiencies (i.e. SFEgmc = ∑Lclump/Mgmc). We find that the molecular material associated with ATLASGAL clumps is concentrated in the spiral arms (∼60 per cent found within ±10 kms−1 of an arm). We have searched for variations in the values of these physical parameters with respect to their proximity to the spiral arms, but find no evidence for any enhancement that might be attributable to the spiral arms. The combined results from a number of similar studies based on different surveys indicate that, while spiral-arm location plays a role in cloud formation and H I to H2 conversion, the subsequent star formation processes appear to depend more on local environment effects. This leads us to conclude that the enhanced star formation activity seen towards the spiral arms is the result of source crowding rather than the consequence of any physical process.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more » ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; « less
Publisher / Repository:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range / eLocation ID:
3050 to 3063
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. ABSTRACT ATLASGAL is an 870-µm dust survey of 420 deg2 the inner Galactic plane and has been used to identify ∼10 000 dense molecular clumps. Dedicated follow-up observations and complementary surveys are used to characterize the physical properties of these clumps, map their Galactic distribution, and investigate the evolutionary sequence for high-mass star formation. The analysis of the ATLASGAL data is ongoing: We present an up-to-date version of the catalogue. We have classified 5007 clumps into four evolutionary stages (quiescent, protostellar, young stellar objects and H ii regions) and find similar numbers of clumps in each stage, suggesting a similar lifetime. The luminosity-to-mass (Lbol/Mfwhm) ratio curve shows a smooth distribution with no significant kinks or discontinuities when compared to the mean values for evolutionary stages indicating that the star formation process is continuous and that the observational stages do not represent fundamentally different stages or changes in the physical mechanisms involved. We compare the evolutionary sample with other star formation tracers (methanol and water masers, extended green objects and molecular outflows) and find that the association rates with these increases as a function of evolutionary stage, confirming that our classification is reliable. This also reveals a high association rate between quiescent sources and molecular outflows, revealing that outflows are the earliest indication that star formation has begun and that star formation is already ongoing in many of the clumps that are dark even at 70 µm. 
    more » « less

    We have investigated the physical properties of Planck Galactic Cold Clumps (PGCCs) located in the Galactic Plane, using the JCMT Plane Survey (JPS) and the SCUBA-2 Continuum Observations of Pre-protostellar Evolution (SCOPE) survey. By utilizing a suite of molecular-line surveys, velocities, and distances were assigned to the compact sources within the PGCCs, placing them in a Galactic context. The properties of these compact sources show no large-scale variations with Galactic environment. Investigating the star-forming content of the sample, we find that the luminosity-to-mass ratio (L/M) is an order of magnitude lower than in other Galactic studies, indicating that these objects are hosting lower levels of star formation. Finally, by comparing ATLASGAL sources that are associated or are not associated with PGCCs, we find that those associated with PGCCs are typically colder, denser, and have a lower L/M ratio, hinting that PGCCs are a distinct population of Galactic Plane sources.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    We combine JWST observations with Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array CO and Very Large Telescope MUSE Hαdata to examine off-spiral arm star formation in the face-on, grand-design spiral galaxy NGC 628. We focus on the northern spiral arm, around a galactocentric radius of 3–4 kpc, and study two spurs. These form an interesting contrast, as one is CO-rich and one CO-poor, and they have a maximum azimuthal offset in MIRI 21μm and MUSE Hαof around 40° (CO-rich) and 55° (CO-poor) from the spiral arm. The star formation rate is higher in the regions of the spurs near spiral arms, but the star formation efficiency appears relatively constant. Given the spiral pattern speed and rotation curve of this galaxy and assuming material exiting the arms undergoes purely circular motion, these offsets would be reached in 100–150 Myr, significantly longer than the 21μm and Hαstar formation timescales (both < 10 Myr). The invariance of the star formation efficiency in the spurs versus the spiral arms indicates massive star formation is not only triggered in spiral arms, and cannot simply occur in the arms and then drift away from the wave pattern. These early JWST results show that in situ star formation likely occurs in the spurs, and that the observed young stars are not simply the “leftovers” of stellar birth in the spiral arms. The excellent physical resolution and sensitivity that JWST can attain in nearby galaxies will well resolve individual star-forming regions and help us to better understand the earliest phases of star formation.

    more » « less

    Young stellar objects (YSOs) are the gold standard for tracing star formation in galaxies but have been unobservable beyond the Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds. But that all changed when the JWST was launched, which we use to identify YSOs in the Local Group galaxy M33, marking the first time that individual YSOs have been identified at these large distances. We present Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) imaging mosaics at 5.6 and 21 $\mu$m that cover a significant portion of one of M33’s spiral arms that has existing panchromatic imaging from the Hubble Space Telescope and deep Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array CO measurements. Using these MIRI and Hubble Space Telescope images, we identify point sources using the new dolphot MIRI module. We identify 793 candidate YSOs from cuts based on colour, proximity to giant molecular clouds (GMCs), and visual inspection. Similar to Milky Way GMCs, we find that higher mass GMCs contain more YSOs and YSO emission, which further show YSOs identify star formation better than most tracers that cannot capture this relationship at cloud scales. We find evidence of enhanced star formation efficiency in the southern spiral arm by comparing the YSOs to the molecular gas mass.

    more » « less
  5. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT To investigate how molecular clouds react to different environmental conditions at a galactic scale, we present a catalogue of giant molecular clouds (GMCs) resolved down to masses of ∼10 M⊙ from a simulation of the entire disc of an interacting M51-like galaxy and a comparable isolated galaxy. Our model includes time-dependent gas chemistry, sink particles for star formation, and supernova feedback, meaning we are not reliant on star formation recipes based on threshold densities and can follow the physics of the cold molecular phase. We extract GMCs from the simulations and analyse their properties. In the disc of our simulated galaxies, spiral arms seem to act merely as snowplows, gathering gas, and clouds without dramatically affecting their properties. In the centre of the galaxy, on the other hand, environmental conditions lead to larger, more massive clouds. While the galaxy interaction has little effect on cloud masses and sizes, it does promote the formation of counter-rotating clouds. We find that the identified clouds seem to be largely gravitationally unbound at first glance, but a closer analysis of the hierarchical structure of the molecular interstellar medium shows that there is a large range of virial parameters with a smooth transition from unbound to mostly bound for the densest structures. The common observation that clouds appear to be virialized entities may therefore be due to CO bright emission highlighting a specific level in this hierarchical binding sequence. The small fraction of gravitationally bound structures found suggests that low galactic star formation efficiencies may be set by the process of cloud formation and initial collapse. 
    more » « less