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  1. Abstract We compare mid-infrared (mid-IR), extinction-corrected H α , and CO (2–1) emission at 70–160 pc resolution in the first four PHANGS–JWST targets. We report correlation strengths, intensity ratios, and power-law fits relating emission in JWST’s F770W, F1000W, F1130W, and F2100W bands to CO and H α . At these scales, CO and H α each correlate strongly with mid-IR emission, and these correlations are each stronger than the one relating CO to H α emission. This reflects that mid-IR emission simultaneously acts as a dust column density tracer, leading to a good match with the molecular-gas-tracing CO, and as a heating tracer, leading to a good match with the H α . By combining mid-IR, CO, and H α at scales where the overall correlation between cold gas and star formation begins to break down, we are able to separate these two effects. We model the mid-IR above I ν = 0.5 MJy sr −1 at F770W, a cut designed to select regions where the molecular gas dominates the interstellar medium (ISM) mass. This bright emission can be described to first order by a model that combines a CO-tracing component and an H α -tracing component. The best-fitting models imply that ∼50% of the mid-IR flux arises from molecular gas heated by the diffuse interstellar radiation field, with the remaining ∼50% associated with bright, dusty star-forming regions. We discuss differences between the F770W, F1000W, and F1130W bands and the continuum-dominated F2100W band and suggest next steps for using the mid-IR as an ISM tracer. 
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  2. Abstract We present the active galactic nucleus (AGN) catalog and optical spectroscopy for the second data release of the Swift BAT AGN Spectroscopic Survey (BASS DR2). With this DR2 release we provide 1449 optical spectra, of which 1182 are released for the first time, for the 858 hard-X-ray-selected AGNs in the Swift BAT 70-month sample. The majority of the spectra (801/1449, 55%) are newly obtained from Very Large Telescope (VLT)/X-shooter or Palomar/Doublespec. Many of the spectra have both higher resolution ( R > 2500, N ∼ 450) and/or very wide wavelength coverage (3200–10000 Å, N ∼ 600) that are important for a variety of AGN and host galaxy studies. We include newly revised AGN counterparts for the full sample and review important issues for population studies, with 47 AGN redshifts determined for the first time and 790 black hole mass and accretion rate estimates. This release is spectroscopically complete for all AGNs (100%, 858/858), with 99.8% having redshift measurements (857/858) and 96% completion in black hole mass estimates of unbeamed AGNs (722/752). This AGN sample represents a unique census of the brightest hard-X-ray-selected AGNs in the sky, spanning many orders of magnitude in Eddington ratio ( L / L Edd = 10 −5 –100), black hole mass ( M BH = 10 5 –10 10 M ⊙ ), and AGN bolometric luminosity ( L bol = 10 40 –10 47 erg s −1 ). 
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  3. Abstract

    Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) play a critical role in the reprocessing of stellar radiation and balancing the heating and cooling processes in the interstellar medium but appear to be destroyed in Hiiregions. However, the mechanisms driving their destruction are still not completely understood. Using PHANGS–JWST and PHANGS–MUSE observations, we investigate how the PAH fraction changes in about 1500 Hiiregions across four nearby star-forming galaxies (NGC 628, NGC 1365, NGC 7496, and IC 5332). We find a strong anticorrelation between the PAH fraction and the ionization parameter (the ratio between the ionizing photon flux and the hydrogen density) of Hiiregions. This relation becomes steeper for more luminous Hiiregions. The metallicity of Hiiregions has only a minor impact on these results in our galaxy sample. We find that the PAH fraction decreases with the Hαequivalent width—a proxy for the age of the Hiiregions—although this trend is much weaker than the one identified using the ionization parameter. Our results are consistent with a scenario where hydrogen-ionizing UV radiation is the dominant source of PAH destruction in star-forming regions.

     
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  4. Abstract

    The earliest stages of star formation, when young stars are still deeply embedded in their natal clouds, represent a critical phase in the matter cycle between gas clouds and young stellar regions. Until now, the high-resolution infrared observations required for characterizing this heavily obscured phase (during which massive stars have formed, but optical emission is not detected) could only be obtained for a handful of the most nearby galaxies. One of the main hurdles has been the limited angular resolution of the Spitzer Space Telescope. With the revolutionary capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), it is now possible to investigate the matter cycle during the earliest phases of star formation as a function of the galactic environment. In this Letter, we demonstrate this by measuring the duration of the embedded phase of star formation and the implied time over which molecular clouds remain inert in the galaxy NGC 628 at a distance of 9.8 Mpc, demonstrating that the cosmic volume where this measurement can be made has increased by a factor of >100 compared to Spitzer. We show that young massive stars remain embedded for5.11.4+2.7Myr (2.31.4+2.7Myr of which being heavily obscured), representing ∼20% of the total cloud lifetime. These values are in broad agreement with previous measurements in five nearby (D< 3.5 Mpc) galaxies and constitute a proof of concept for the systematic characterization of the early phase of star formation across the nearby galaxy population with the PHANGS–JWST survey.

     
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  5. ABSTRACT Understanding the spatial distribution of metals within galaxies allows us to study the processes of chemical enrichment and mixing in the interstellar medium. In this work, we map the 2D distribution of metals using a Gaussian Process Regression (GPR) for 19 star-forming galaxies observed with the Very Large Telescope/Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (VLT–MUSE) as a part of the PHANGS–MUSE survey. We find that 12 of our 19 galaxies show significant 2D metallicity variation. Those without significant variations typically have fewer metallicity measurements, indicating this is due to the dearth of ${\rm H\, {\small II}}$ regions in these galaxies, rather than a lack of higher-order variation. After subtracting a linear radial gradient, we see no enrichment in the spiral arms versus the disc. We measure the 50 per cent correlation scale from the two-point correlation function of these radially subtracted maps, finding it to typically be an order of magnitude smaller than the fitted GPR kernel scale length. We study the dependence of the two-point correlation scale length with a number of global galaxy properties. We find no relationship between the 50 per cent correlation scale and the overall gas turbulence, in tension with existing theoretical models. We also find more actively star-forming galaxies, and earlier type galaxies have a larger 50 per cent correlation scale. The size and stellar mass surface density do not appear to correlate with the 50 per cent correlation scale, indicating that perhaps the evolutionary state of the galaxy and its current star formation activity is the strongest indicator of the homogeneity of the metal distribution. 
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  6. ABSTRACT

    The processes of star formation and feedback, regulating the cycle of matter between gas and stars on the scales of giant molecular clouds (GMCs; ∼100 pc), play a major role in governing galaxy evolution. Measuring the time-scales of GMC evolution is important to identify and characterize the specific physical mechanisms that drive this transition. By applying a robust statistical method to high-resolution CO and narrow-band H α imaging from the PHANGS survey, we systematically measure the evolutionary timeline from molecular clouds to exposed young stellar regions on GMC scales, across the discs of an unprecedented sample of 54 star-forming main-sequence galaxies (excluding their unresolved centres). We find that clouds live for about 1−3 GMC turbulence crossing times (5−30 Myr) and are efficiently dispersed by stellar feedback within 1−5 Myr once the star-forming region becomes partially exposed, resulting in integrated star formation efficiencies of 1−8 per cent. These ranges reflect physical galaxy-to-galaxy variation. In order to evaluate whether galactic environment influences GMC evolution, we correlate our measurements with average properties of the GMCs and their local galactic environment. We find several strong correlations that can be physically understood, revealing a quantitative link between galactic-scale environmental properties and the small-scale GMC evolution. Notably, the measured CO-visible cloud lifetimes become shorter with decreasing galaxy mass, mostly due to the increasing presence of CO-dark molecular gas in such environment. Our results represent a first step towards a comprehensive picture of cloud assembly and dispersal, which requires further extension and refinement with tracers of the atomic gas, dust, and deeply embedded stars.

     
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  7. ABSTRACT We present the results of a proof-of-concept experiment that demonstrates that deep learning can successfully be used for production-scale classification of compact star clusters detected in Hubble Space Telescope(HST) ultraviolet-optical imaging of nearby spiral galaxies ($D\lesssim 20\, \textrm{Mpc}$) in the Physics at High Angular Resolution in Nearby GalaxieS (PHANGS)–HST survey. Given the relatively small nature of existing, human-labelled star cluster samples, we transfer the knowledge of state-of-the-art neural network models for real-object recognition to classify star clusters candidates into four morphological classes. We perform a series of experiments to determine the dependence of classification performance on neural network architecture (ResNet18 and VGG19-BN), training data sets curated by either a single expert or three astronomers, and the size of the images used for training. We find that the overall classification accuracies are not significantly affected by these choices. The networks are used to classify star cluster candidates in the PHANGS–HST galaxy NGC 1559, which was not included in the training samples. The resulting prediction accuracies are 70 per cent, 40 per cent, 40–50 per cent, and 50–70 per cent for class 1, 2, 3 star clusters, and class 4 non-clusters, respectively. This performance is competitive with consistency achieved in previously published human and automated quantitative classification of star cluster candidate samples (70–80 per cent, 40–50 per cent, 40–50 per cent, and 60–70 per cent). The methods introduced herein lay the foundations to automate classification for star clusters at scale, and exhibit the need to prepare a standardized data set of human-labelled star cluster classifications, agreed upon by a full range of experts in the field, to further improve the performance of the networks introduced in this study. 
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  8. Abstract The PHANGS program is building the first data set to enable the multiphase, multiscale study of star formation across the nearby spiral galaxy population. This effort is enabled by large survey programs with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), MUSE on the Very Large Telescope, and the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), with which we have obtained CO(2–1) imaging, optical spectroscopic mapping, and high-resolution UV–optical imaging, respectively. Here, we present PHANGS-HST, which has obtained NUV– U – B – V – I imaging of the disks of 38 spiral galaxies at distances of 4–23 Mpc, and parallel V - and I -band imaging of their halos, to provide a census of tens of thousands of compact star clusters and multiscale stellar associations. The combination of HST, ALMA, and VLT/MUSE observations will yield an unprecedented joint catalog of the observed and physical properties of ∼100,000 star clusters, associations, H ii regions, and molecular clouds. With these basic units of star formation, PHANGS will systematically chart the evolutionary cycling between gas and stars across a diversity of galactic environments found in nearby galaxies. We discuss the design of the PHANGS-HST survey and provide an overview of the HST data processing pipeline and first results. We highlight new methods for selecting star cluster candidates, morphological classification of candidates with convolutional neural networks, and identification of stellar associations over a range of physical scales with a watershed algorithm. We describe the cross-observatory imaging, catalogs, and software products to be released. The PHANGS high-level science products will seed a broad range of investigations, in particular, the study of embedded stellar populations and dust with the James Webb Space Telescope, for which a PHANGS Cycle 1 Treasury program to obtain eight-band 2–21 μ m imaging has been approved. 
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  9. 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 estimation 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. 
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