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Creators/Authors contains: "Benincasa, Samantha M."

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  1. ABSTRACT

    In the hierarchical view of star formation, giant molecular clouds (GMCs) undergo fragmentation to form small-scale structures made up of stars and star clusters. Here we study the connection between young star clusters and cold gas across a range of extragalactic environments by combining the high resolution (1″) PHANGS–ALMA catalogue of GMCs with the star cluster catalogues from PHANGS–HST. The star clusters are spatially matched with the GMCs across a sample of 11 nearby star-forming galaxies with a range of galactic environments (centres, bars, spiral arms, etc.). We find that after 4 − 6 Myr the star clusters are no longer associated with any gas clouds. Additionally, we measure the autocorrelation of the star clusters and GMCs as well as their cross-correlation to quantify the fractal nature of hierarchical star formation. Young (≤10 Myr) star clusters are more strongly autocorrelated on kpc and smaller spatial scales than the $\gt \, 10$ Myr stellar populations, indicating that the hierarchical structure dissolves over time.

  2. ABSTRACT We present the first measurement of the lifetimes of giant molecular clouds (GMCs) in cosmological simulations at z = 0, using the Latte suite of FIRE-2 simulations of Milky Way (MW) mass galaxies. We track GMCs with total gas mass ≳105 M⊙ at high spatial (∼1 pc), mass (7100 M⊙), and temporal (1 Myr) resolution. Our simulated GMCs are consistent with the distribution of masses for massive GMCs in the MW and nearby galaxies. We find GMC lifetimes of 5–7 Myr, or 1–2 freefall times, on average, with less than 2 per cent of clouds living longer than 20 Myr. We find decreasing GMC lifetimes with increasing virial parameter, and weakly increasing GMC lifetimes with galactocentric radius, implying that environment affects the evolutionary cycle of GMCs. However, our GMC lifetimes show no systematic dependence on GMC mass or amount of star formation. These results are broadly consistent with inferences from the literature and provide an initial investigation into ultimately understanding the physical processes that govern GMC lifetimes in a cosmological setting.
  3. Abstract

    We present a rich, multiwavelength, multiscale database built around the PHANGS–ALMA CO (2 − 1) survey and ancillary data. We use this database to present the distributions of molecular cloud populations and subgalactic environments in 80 PHANGS galaxies, to characterize the relationship between population-averaged cloud properties and host galaxy properties, and to assess key timescales relevant to molecular cloud evolution and star formation. We show that PHANGS probes a wide range of kpc-scale gas, stellar, and star formation rate (SFR) surface densities, as well as orbital velocities and shear. The population-averaged cloud properties in each aperture correlate strongly with both local environmental properties and host galaxy global properties. Leveraging a variable selection analysis, we find that the kpc-scale surface densities of molecular gas and SFR tend to possess the most predictive power for the population-averaged cloud properties. Once their variations are controlled for, galaxy global properties contain little additional information, which implies that the apparent galaxy-to-galaxy variations in cloud populations are likely mediated by kpc-scale environmental conditions. We further estimate a suite of important timescales from our multiwavelength measurements. The cloud-scale freefall time and turbulence crossing time are ∼5–20 Myr, comparable to previous cloud lifetime estimates. The timescales formore »orbital motion, shearing, and cloud–cloud collisions are longer, ∼100 Myr. The molecular gas depletion time is 1–3 Gyr and shows weak to no correlations with the other timescales in our data. We publish our measurements online, and expect them to have broad utility to future studies of molecular clouds and star formation.

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  4. 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 amore »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
  5. Abstract We present PHANGS–ALMA, the first survey to map CO J = 2 → 1 line emission at ∼1″ ∼100 pc spatial resolution from a representative sample of 90 nearby ( d ≲ 20 Mpc) galaxies that lie on or near the z = 0 “main sequence” of star-forming galaxies. CO line emission traces the bulk distribution of molecular gas, which is the cold, star-forming phase of the interstellar medium. At the resolution achieved by PHANGS–ALMA, each beam reaches the size of a typical individual giant molecular cloud, so that these data can be used to measure the demographics, life cycle, and physical state of molecular clouds across the population of galaxies where the majority of stars form at z = 0. This paper describes the scientific motivation and background for the survey, sample selection, global properties of the targets, Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) observations, and characteristics of the delivered data and derived data products. As the ALMA sample serves as the parent sample for parallel surveys with MUSE on the Very Large Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope, AstroSat, the Very Large Array, and other facilities, we include a detailed discussion of the sample selection. We detail the estimationmore »of galaxy mass, size, star formation rate, CO luminosity, and other properties, compare estimates using different systems and provide best-estimate integrated measurements for each target. We also report the design and execution of the ALMA observations, which combine a Cycle 5 Large Program, a series of smaller programs, and archival observations. Finally, we present the first 1″ resolution atlas of CO emission from nearby galaxies and describe the properties and contents of the first PHANGS–ALMA public data release.« less