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  1. Abstract

    Magnetic fields are dynamically important in the diffuse interstellar medium. Understanding how gravitationally bound, star-forming clouds form requires modeling of the fields in a self-consistent, supernova-driven, turbulent, magnetized, stratified disk. We employ the FLASH magnetohydrodynamics code to follow the formation and early evolution of clouds with final masses of 3–8 × 103Mwithin such a simulation. We use the code’s adaptive mesh refinement capabilities to concentrate numerical resolution in zoom-in regions covering single clouds, allowing us to investigate the detailed dynamics and field structure of individual self-gravitating clouds in a consistent background medium. Our goal is to test the hypothesis that dense clouds are dynamically evolving objects far from magnetohydrostatic equilibrium. We find that the cloud envelopes are magnetically supported with field lines parallel to density gradients and flow velocity, as indicated by the histogram of relative orientations and other statistical measures. In contrast, the dense cores of the clouds are gravitationally dominated, with gravitational energy exceeding internal, kinetic, or magnetic energy and accelerations due to gravity exceeding those due to magnetic or thermal pressure gradients. In these regions, field directions vary strongly, with a slight preference toward being perpendicular to density gradients, as shown by three-dimensional histograms of relativemore »orientation.

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  2. 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.

  3. Abstract The Galactic bar plays a critical role in the evolution of the Milky Way’s Central Molecular Zone (CMZ), driving gas toward the Galactic Center via gas flows known as dust lanes. To explore the interaction between the CMZ and the dust lanes, we run hydrodynamic simulations in arepo , modeling the potential of the Milky Way’s bar in the absence of gas self-gravity and star formation physics, and we study the flows of mass using Monte Carlo tracer particles. We estimate the efficiency of the inflow via the dust lanes, finding that only about a third (30% ± 12%) of the dust lanes’ mass initially accretes onto the CMZ, while the rest overshoots and accretes later. Given observational estimates of the amount of gas within the Milky Way’s dust lanes, this suggests that the true total inflow rate onto the CMZ is 0.8 ± 0.6 M ⊙ yr −1 . Clouds in this simulated CMZ have sudden peaks in their average density near the apocenter, where they undergo violent collisions with inflowing material. While these clouds tend to counter-rotate due to shear, co-rotating clouds occasionally occur due to the injection of momentum from collisions with inflowing material (∼52% aremore »strongly counter-rotating, and ∼7% are strongly co-rotating of the 44 cloud sample). We investigate the formation and evolution of these clouds, finding that they are fed by many discrete inflow events, providing a consistent source of gas to CMZ clouds even as they collapse and form stars.« less
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  5. ABSTRACT The sensitivity of X-ray facilities and our ability to detect fainter active galactic nuclei (AGNs) will increase with the upcoming Athena mission and the AXIS and Lynx concept missions, thus improving our understanding of supermassive black holes (BHs) in a luminosity regime that can be dominated by X-ray binaries. We analyse the population of faint AGNs ($L_{\rm x, 2{-}10 \, keV}\leqslant 10^{42}\, \rm erg\,s^{ -1}$) in the Illustris, TNG100, EAGLE, and SIMBA cosmological simulations, and find that the properties of their host galaxies vary from one simulation to another. In Illustris and EAGLE, faint AGNs are powered by low-mass BHs located in low-mass star-forming galaxies. In TNG100 and SIMBA, they are mostly associated with more massive BHs in quenched massive galaxies. We model the X-ray binary (XRB) populations of the simulated galaxies, and find that AGNs often dominate the galaxy AGN + XRB hard X-ray luminosity at z > 2, while XRBs dominate in some simulations at z < 2. Whether the AGN or XRB emission dominates in star-forming and quenched galaxies depends on the simulations. These differences in simulations can be used to discriminate between galaxy formation models with future high-resolution X-ray observations. We compare the luminosity ofmore »simulated faint AGN host galaxies to observations of stacked galaxies from Chandra. Our comparison indicates that the simulations post-processed with our X-ray modelling tend to overestimate the AGN + XRB X-ray luminosity; luminosity that can be strongly affected by AGN obscuration. Some simulations reveal clear AGN trends as a function of stellar mass (e.g. galaxy luminosity drop in massive galaxies), which are not apparent in the observations.« less
  6. Abstract

    The formation of globular clusters and their relation to the distribution of dark matter have long puzzled astronomers. One of the most recently proposed globular cluster formation channels ties ancient star clusters to the large-scale streaming velocity of baryons relative to dark matter in the early universe. These streaming velocities affect the global infall of baryons into dark matter halos, the high-redshift halo mass function, and the earliest generations of stars. In some cases, streaming velocities may result in dense regions of dark matter-free gas that becomes Jeans unstable, potentially leading to the formation of compact star clusters. We investigate this hypothesis using cosmological hydrodynamical simulations that include a full chemical network and the formation and destruction of H2, a process crucial for the formation of the first stars. We find that high-density gas in regions with significant streaming velocities is indeed somewhat offset from the centers of dark matter halos, but this offset is typically significantly smaller than the virial radius. Gas outside of dark matter halos never reaches Jeans-unstable densities in our simulations. We postulate that low-level (Z≈ 10−3Z) metal enrichment by Population III supernovae may enable cooling in the extra-virial regions, allowing gas outside of darkmore »matter halos to cool to the cosmic microwave background temperature and become Jeans unstable. Follow-up simulations that include both streaming velocities and metal enrichment by Population III supernovae are needed to understand if streaming velocities provide one path for the formation of globular clusters in the early universe.

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  7. 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 cloudmore »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 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 unboundmore »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.« less
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  10. 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 centralmore »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.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023