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  1. Abstract

    Observations indicate that the star formation rate (SFR) of nuclear rings varies considerably with time and is sometimes asymmetric rather than being uniform across a ring. To understand what controls temporal and spatial distributions of ring star formation, we run semiglobal, hydrodynamic simulations of nuclear rings subject to time-varying and/or asymmetric mass inflow rates. These controlled variations in the inflow lead to variations in the star formation, while the ring orbital period (18 Myr) and radius (600 pc) remain approximately constant. We find that both the mass inflow rate and supernova feedback affect the ring SFR. An oscillating inflow rate with period Δτinand amplitude 20 causes large-amplitude (a factor of ≳5), quasi-periodic variations of the SFR when Δτin≳ 50 Myr. We find that the time-varying interstellar medium (ISM) weight and midplane pressure track each other closely, establishing an instantaneous vertical equilibrium. The measured time-varying depletion time is consistent with the prediction from self-regulation theory provided the time delay between star formation and supernova feedback is taken into account. The supernova feedback is responsible only for small-amplitude (a factor of ∼2) fluctuations of the SFR with a timescale ≲40 Myr. Asymmetry in the inflow rate does not necessarily lead tomore »asymmetric star formation in nuclear rings. Only when the inflow rate from one dust lane is suddenly increased by a large factor do the rings undergo a transient period of lopsided star formation.

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  2. Abstract Stellar winds contain enough energy to easily disrupt the parent cloud surrounding a nascent star cluster, and for this reason they have long been considered candidates for regulating star formation. However, direct observations suggest most wind power is lost, and Lancaster et al. recently proposed that this is due to efficient mixing and cooling processes. Here we simulate star formation with wind feedback in turbulent, self-gravitating clouds, extending our previous work. Our simulations cover clouds with an initial surface density of 10 2 –10 4 M ⊙ pc −2 and show that star formation and residual gas dispersal are complete within two to eight initial cloud freefall times. The “efficiently cooled” model for stellar wind bubble evolution predicts that enough energy is lost for the bubbles to become momentum-driven; we find that this is satisfied in our simulations. We also find that wind energy losses from turbulent, radiative mixing layers dominate losses by “cloud leakage” over the timescales relevant for star formation. We show that the net star formation efficiency (SFE) in our simulations can be explained by theories that apply wind momentum to disperse cloud gas, allowing for highly inhomogeneous internal cloud structure. For very dense clouds, themore »SFE is similar to those observed in extreme star-forming environments. Finally, we find that, while self-pollution by wind material is insignificant in cloud conditions with moderate density (only ≲10 −4 of the stellar mass originated in winds), our simulations with conditions more typical of a super star cluster have star particles that form with as much as 1% of their mass in wind material.« less
  3. Abstract Physical and chemical properties of the interstellar medium (ISM) at subgalactic (∼kiloparsec) scales play an indispensable role in controlling the ability of gas to form stars. In this paper, we use the TNG50 cosmological simulation to explore the physical parameter space of eight resolved ISM properties in star-forming regions to constrain the areas of this hyperspace where most star-forming environments exist. We deconstruct our simulated galaxies spanning a wide range of mass ( M ⋆ = 10 7 –10 11 M ⊙ ) and redshift (0 ≤ z ≤ 3) into kiloparsec-sized regions and statistically analyze the gas/stellar surface densities, gas metallicity, vertical stellar velocity dispersion, epicyclic frequency, and dark-matter volumetric density representative of each region in the context of their star formation activity and environment (radial galactocentric location). By examining the star formation rate (SFR) weighted distributions of these properties, we show that stars primarily form in two distinct environmental regimes, which are brought about by an underlying bicomponent radial SFR profile in galaxies. We examine how the relative prominence of these regimes depends on galaxy mass and cosmic time. We also compare our findings with those from integral field spectroscopy observations and find similarities as well asmore »departures. Further, using dimensionality reduction, we characterize the aforementioned hyperspace to reveal a high degree of multicollinearity in relationships among ISM properties that drive the distribution of star formation at kiloparsec scales. Based on this, we show that a reduced 3D representation underpinned by a multivariate radius relationship is sufficient to capture most of the variance in the original 8D space.« less
  4. Abstract Molecular clouds are supported by turbulence and magnetic fields, but quantifying their influence on cloud life cycle and star formation efficiency (SFE) remains an open question. We perform radiation magnetohydrodynamic simulations of star-forming giant molecular clouds (GMCs) with UV radiation feedback, in which the propagation of UV radiation via ray tracing is coupled to hydrogen photochemistry. We consider 10 GMC models that vary in either initial virial parameter (1 ≤ α vir,0 ≤ 5) or dimensionless mass-to-magnetic flux ratio (0.5 ≤ μ Φ,0 ≤ 8 and ∞ ); the initial mass 10 5 M ⊙ and radius 20 pc are fixed. Each model is run with five different initial turbulence realizations. In most models, the duration of star formation and the timescale for molecular gas removal (primarily by photoevaporation) are 4–8 Myr. Both the final SFE ( ε * ) and time-averaged SFE per freefall time ( ε ff ) are reduced by strong turbulence and magnetic fields. The median ε * ranges between 2.1% and 9.5%. The median ε ff ranges between 1.0% and 8.0%, and anticorrelates with α vir,0 , in qualitative agreement with previous analytic theory and simulations. However, the time-dependent α vir ( t )more »and ε ff,obs ( t ) based on instantaneous gas properties and cluster luminosity are positively correlated due to rapid evolution, making observational validation of star formation theory difficult. Our median ε ff,obs ( t ) ≈ 2% is similar to observed values. We show that the traditional virial parameter estimates the true gravitational boundedness within a factor of 2 on average, but neglect of magnetic support and velocity anisotropy can sometimes produce large departures from traditional virial parameter estimates. Magnetically subcritical GMCs are unlikely to represent sites of massive star formation given their unrealistic columnar outflows, prolonged lifetime, and low escape fraction of radiation.« less