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  1. Abstract

    We measure the molecular gas environment near recent (<100 yr old) supernovae (SNe) using ∼1″ or ≤150 pc resolution CO (2–1) maps from the PHANGS–Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) survey of nearby star-forming galaxies. This is arguably the first such study to approach the scales of individual massive molecular clouds (Mmol≳ 105.3M). Using the Open Supernova Catalog, we identify 63 SNe within the PHANGS–ALMA footprint. We detect CO (2–1) emission near ∼60% of the sample at 150 pc resolution, compared to ∼35% of map pixels with CO (2–1) emission, and up to ∼95% of the SNe at 1 kpc resolution, compared to ∼80% of map pixels with CO (2–1) emission. We expect the ∼60% of SNe within the same 150 pc beam, as a giant molecular cloud will likely interact with these clouds in the future, consistent with the observation of widespread SN–molecular gas interaction in the Milky Way, while the other ∼40% of SNe without strong CO (2–1) detections will deposit their energy in the diffuse interstellar medium, perhaps helping drive large-scale turbulence or galactic outflows. Broken down by type, we detect CO (2–1) emission at the sites of ∼85% of our 9 stripped-envelope SNe (SESNe), ∼40% of our 34 Type II SNe, and ∼35% of our 13 Type Ia SNe, indicating that SESNe are most closely associated with the brightest CO (2–1) emitting regions in our sample. Our results confirm that SN explosions are not restricted to only the densest gas, and instead exert feedback across a wide range of molecular gas densities.

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  2. 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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    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.

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  4. Abstract

    We present maps tracing the fraction of dust in the form of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in IC 5332, NGC 628, NGC 1365, and NGC 7496 from JWST/MIRI observations. We trace the PAH fraction by combining the F770W (7.7μm) and F1130W (11.3μm) filters to track ionized and neutral PAH emission, respectively, and comparing the PAH emission to F2100W, which traces small, hot dust grains. We find the averageRPAH= (F770W + F1130W)/F2100W values of 3.3, 4.7, 5.1, and 3.6 in IC 5332, NGC 628, NGC 1365, and NGC 7496, respectively. We find that Hiiregions traced by MUSE Hαshow a systematically low PAH fraction. The PAH fraction remains relatively constant across other galactic environments, with slight variations. We use CO+Hi+Hαto trace the interstellar gas phase and find that the PAH fraction decreases above a value ofIHα/ΣHI+H21037.5ergs1kpc2(Mpc2)1in all four galaxies. Radial profiles also show a decreasing PAH fraction with increasing radius, correlated with lower metallicity, in line with previous results showing a strong metallicity dependence to the PAH fraction. Our results suggest that the process of PAH destruction in ionized gas operates similarly across the four targets.

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  5. 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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  6. Abstract

    We measure empirical relationships between the local star formation rate (SFR) and properties of the star-forming molecular gas on 1.5 kpc scales across 80 nearby galaxies. These relationships, commonly referred to as “star formation laws,” aim at predicting the local SFR surface density from various combinations of molecular gas surface density, galactic orbital time, molecular cloud free fall time, and the interstellar medium dynamical equilibrium pressure. Leveraging a multiwavelength database built for the Physics at High Angular Resolution in Nearby Galaxies (PHANGS) survey, we measure these quantities consistently across all galaxies and quantify systematic uncertainties stemming from choices of SFR calibrations and the CO-to-H2conversion factors. The star formation laws we examine show 0.3–0.4 dex of intrinsic scatter, among which the molecular Kennicutt–Schmidt relation shows a ∼10% larger scatter than the other three. The slope of this relation rangesβ≈ 0.9–1.2, implying that the molecular gas depletion time remains roughly constant across the environments probed in our sample. The other relations have shallower slopes (β≈ 0.6–1.0), suggesting that the star formation efficiency per orbital time, the star formation efficiency per free fall time, and the pressure-to-SFR surface density ratio (i.e., the feedback yield) vary systematically with local molecular gas and SFR surface densities. Last but not least, the shapes of the star formation laws depend sensitively on methodological choices. Different choices of SFR calibrations can introduce systematic uncertainties of at least 10%–15% in the star formation law slopes and 0.15–0.25 dex in their normalization, while the CO-to-H2conversion factors can additionally produce uncertainties of 20%–25% for the slope and 0.10–0.20 dex for the normalization.

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    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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  8. Abstract We measure the low- J CO line ratios R 21 ≡ CO (2–1)/CO (1–0), R 32 ≡ CO (3–2)/CO (2–1), and R 31 ≡CO (3–2)/CO (1–0) using whole-disk CO maps of nearby galaxies. We draw CO (2–1) from PHANGS-ALMA, HERACLES, and follow-up IRAM surveys; CO (1–0) from COMING and the Nobeyama CO Atlas of Nearby Spiral Galaxies; and CO (3–2) from the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope Nearby Galaxy Legacy Survey and Atacama Pathfinder Experiment Large APEX Sub-Millimetre Array mapping. All together, this yields 76, 47, and 29 maps of R 21 , R 32 , and R 31 at 20″ ∼ 1.3 kpc resolution, covering 43, 34, and 20 galaxies. Disk galaxies with high stellar mass, log ( M ⋆ / M ⊙ ) = 10.25 – 11 , and star formation rate (SFR) = 1–5 M ⊙ yr −1 , dominate the sample. We find galaxy-integrated mean values and a 16%–84% range of R 21 = 0.65 (0.50–0.83), R 32 = 0.50 (0.23–0.59), and R 31 = 0.31 (0.20–0.42). We identify weak trends relating galaxy-integrated line ratios to properties expected to correlate with excitation, including SFR/ M ⋆ and SFR/ L CO . Within galaxies, we measure central enhancements with respect to the galaxy-averaged value of ∼ 0.18 − 0.14 + 0.09 dex for R 21 , 0.27 − 0.15 + 0.13 dex for R 31 , and 0.08 − 0.09 + 0.11 dex for R 32 . All three line ratios anticorrelate with galactocentric radius and positively correlate with the local SFR surface density and specific SFR, and we provide approximate fits to these relations. The observed ratios can be reasonably reproduced by models with low temperature, moderate opacity, and moderate densities, in good agreement with expectations for the cold interstellar medium. Because the line ratios are expected to anticorrelate with the CO (1–0)-to-H 2 conversion factor, α CO 1 − 0 , these results have general implications for the interpretation of CO emission from galaxies. 
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  9. Abstract

    JWST observations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) emission provide some of the deepest and highest resolution views of the cold interstellar medium (ISM) in nearby galaxies. If PAHs are well mixed with the atomic and molecular gas and illuminated by the average diffuse interstellar radiation field, PAH emission may provide an approximately linear, high-resolution, high-sensitivity tracer of diffuse gas surface density. We present a pilot study that explores using PAH emission in this way based on Mid-Infrared Instrument observations of IC 5332, NGC 628, NGC 1365, and NGC 7496 from the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS-JWST Treasury. Using scaling relationships calibrated in Leroy et al., scaled F1130W provides 10–40 pc resolution and 3σsensitivity of Σgas∼ 2Mpc−2. We characterize the surface densities of structures seen at <7Mpc−2in our targets, where we expect the gas to be Hi-dominated. We highlight the existence of filaments, interarm emission, and holes in the diffuse ISM at these low surface densities. Below ∼10Mpc−2for NGC 628, NGC 1365, and NGC 7496 the gas distribution shows a “Swiss cheese”-like topology due to holes and bubbles pervading the relatively smooth distribution of the diffuse ISM. Comparing to recent galaxy simulations, we observe similar topology for the low-surface-density gas, though with notable variations between simulations with different setups and resolution. Such a comparison of high-resolution, low-surface-density gas with simulations is not possible with existing atomic and molecular gas maps, highlighting the unique power of JWST maps of PAH emission.

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  10. Abstract

    We explore the relationship between mid-infrared (mid-IR) and CO rotational line emission from massive star-forming galaxies, which is one of the tightest scalings in the local universe. We assemble a large set of unresolved and moderately (∼1 kpc) spatially resolved measurements of CO (1–0) and CO (2–1) intensity,ICO, and mid-IR intensity,IMIR, at 8, 12, 22, and 24μm. TheICOversusIMIRrelationship is reasonably described by a power law with slopes 0.7–1.2 and normalizationICO∼ 1 K km s−1atIMIR∼ 1 MJy sr−1. Both the slopes and intercepts vary systematically with choice of line and band. The comparison between the relations measured for CO (1–0) and CO (2–1) allow us to infer thatR21IMIR0.2, in good agreement with other work. The 8μm and 12μm bands, with strong polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) features, show steeper CO versus mid-IR slopes than the 22 and 24μm, consistent with PAH emission arising not just from CO-bright gas but also from atomic or CO-dark gas. The CO-to-mid-IR ratio correlates with global galaxy stellar mass (M) and anticorrelates with star formation rate/M. At ∼1 kpc resolution, the first four PHANGS–JWST targets show CO-to-mid-IR relationships that are quantitatively similar to our larger literature sample, including showing the steep CO-to-mid-IR slopes for the JWST PAH-tracing bands, although we caution that these initial data have a small sample size and span a limited range of intensities.

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