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    Observations indicate dust populations vary between galaxies and within them, suggesting a complex life cycle and evolutionary history. Here we investigate the evolution of galactic dust populations across cosmic time using a suite of cosmological zoom-in simulations from the Feedback in Realistic Environments project, spanning $M_{\rm vir}=10^{9-12}{M}_{\odot };\, M_{*}=10^{6-11}\, {M}_{\odot }$. Our simulations incorporate a dust evolution model that accounts for the dominant sources of dust production, growth, and destruction and follows the evolution of specific dust species. All galactic dust populations in our suite exhibit similar evolutionary histories, with gas–dust accretion being the dominant producer of dust mass for all but the most metal-poor galaxies. Similar to previous works, we find the onset of efficient gas–dust accretion occurs above a ‘critical’ metallicity threshold (Zcrit). Due to this threshold, our simulations reproduce observed trends between galactic D/Z and metallicity and element depletion trends in the interstellar medium. However, we find Zcrit varies between dust species due to differences in key element abundances, dust physical properties, and life cycle processes resulting in $Z_{\rm crit}\sim 0.05{\rm Z}_{\odot },\, 0.2{\rm Z}_{\odot },\, 0.5{\rm Z}_{\odot }$ for metallic iron, silicates, and carbonaceous dust, respectively. These variations could explain the lack of small carbonaceous grains observed in the Magellanic Clouds. We also find a delay between the onset of gas–dust accretion and when a dust population reaches equilibrium, which we call the equilibrium time-scale (τequil). The relation between τequil and the metal enrichment time-scale of a galaxy, determined by its recent evolutionary history, can contribute to the scatter in the observed relation between galactic D/Z and metallicity.

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  2. Abstract

    We measure the CO-to-H2conversion factor (αCO) in 37 galaxies at 2 kpc resolution, using the dust surface density inferred from far-infrared emission as a tracer of the gas surface density and assuming a constant dust-to-metal ratio. In total, we have ∼790 and ∼610 independent measurements ofαCOfor CO (2–1) and (1–0), respectively. The mean values forαCO (2–1)andαCO (1–0)are9.35.4+4.6and4.22.0+1.9Mpc2(Kkms1)1, respectively. The CO-intensity-weighted mean is 5.69 forαCO (2–1)and 3.33 forαCO (1–0). We examine howαCOscales with several physical quantities, e.g., the star formation rate (SFR), stellar mass, and dust-mass-weighted average interstellar radiation field strength (U¯). Among them,U¯, ΣSFR, and the integrated CO intensity (WCO) have the strongest anticorrelation with spatially resolvedαCO. We provide linear regression results toαCOfor all quantities tested. At galaxy-integrated scales, we observe significant correlations betweenαCOandWCO, metallicity,U¯, and ΣSFR. We also find thatαCOin each galaxy decreases with the stellar mass surface density (Σ) in high-surface-density regions (Σ≥ 100Mpc−2), following the power-law relationsαCO(21)Σ0.5andαCO(10)Σ0.2. The power-law index is insensitive to the assumed dust-to-metal ratio. We interpret the decrease inαCOwith increasing Σas a result of higher velocity dispersion compared to isolated, self-gravitating clouds due to the additional gravitational force from stellar sources, which leads to the reduction inαCO. The decrease inαCOat high Σis important for accurately assessing molecular gas content and star formation efficiency in the centers of galaxies, which bridge “Milky Way–like” to “starburst-like” conversion factors.

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  3. Abstract

    Hiiregion electron temperatures are a critical ingredient in metallicity determinations, and recent observations have revealed systematic variations in the temperatures measured using different ions. We present electron temperatures (Te) measured using the optical auroral lines ([Nii]λ5756, [Oii]λλ7320, 7330, [Sii]λλ4069, 4076, [Oiii]λ4363, and [Siii]λ6312) for a sample of Hiiregions in seven nearby galaxies. We use observations from the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby Galaxies survey (PHANGS) obtained with integral field spectrographs on Keck (Keck Cosmic Web Imager) and the Very Large Telescope (Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer). We compare the differentTemeasurements with Hiiregion and ISM environmental properties such as electron density, ionization parameter, molecular gas velocity dispersion, and stellar association/cluster mass and age obtained from PHANGS. We find that the temperatures from [Oii] and [Sii] are likely overestimated due to the presence of electron density inhomogeneities in Hiiregions. We measure high [Oiii] temperatures in a subset of regions with high molecular gas velocity dispersion and low ionization parameter, which may be explained by the presence of low-velocity shocks. In agreement with previous studies, theTeTebetween [Nii] and [Siii] temperatures have the lowest observed scatter and follow predictions from photoionization modeling, which suggests that these tracers reflect Hiiregion temperatures across the various ionization zones better than [Oii], [Sii], and [Oiii].

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    We present the results of direct-method metallicity measurements in the disc and outflow of the low-metallicity starburst galaxy NGC 1569. We use Keck Cosmic Web Imager observations to map the galaxy across 54″ (800 pc) along the major axis and 48″ (700 pc) along the minor axis with a spatial resolution of 1″ (∼15 pc). We detect common strong emission lines ([O iii] λ5007, H β, [O ii] λ3727) and the fainter [O iii] λ4363 auroral line, which allows us to measure electron temperature (Te) and metallicity. Theory suggests that outflows drive metals out of the disc driving observed trends between stellar mass and gas-phase metallicity. Our main result is that the metallicity in the outflow is similar to that of the disc, Zout/ZISM ≈ 1. This is consistent with previous absorption line studies in higher mass galaxies. Assumption of a mass-loading factor of $\dot{M}_{\rm out}/{\rm SFR}\sim 3$ makes the metal-loading of NGC 1569 consistent with expectations derived from the mass–metallicity relationship. Our high spatial resolution metallicity maps reveal a region around a supermassive star cluster (SSC-B) with distinctly higher metallicity and higher electron density, compared to the disc. Given the known properties of SSC-B the higher metallicity and density of this region are likely the result of star formation-driven feedback acting on the local scale. Overall, our results are consistent with the picture in which metal-enriched winds pollute the circumgalactic medium surrounding galaxies, and thus connect the small-scale feedback processes to large-scale properties of galaxy haloes.

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    Young stellar objects (YSOs) are the gold standard for tracing star formation in galaxies but have been unobservable beyond the Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds. But that all changed when the JWST was launched, which we use to identify YSOs in the Local Group galaxy M33, marking the first time that individual YSOs have been identified at these large distances. We present Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) imaging mosaics at 5.6 and 21 $\mu$m that cover a significant portion of one of M33’s spiral arms that has existing panchromatic imaging from the Hubble Space Telescope and deep Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array CO measurements. Using these MIRI and Hubble Space Telescope images, we identify point sources using the new dolphot MIRI module. We identify 793 candidate YSOs from cuts based on colour, proximity to giant molecular clouds (GMCs), and visual inspection. Similar to Milky Way GMCs, we find that higher mass GMCs contain more YSOs and YSO emission, which further show YSOs identify star formation better than most tracers that cannot capture this relationship at cloud scales. We find evidence of enhanced star formation efficiency in the southern spiral arm by comparing the YSOs to the molecular gas mass.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 23, 2024

    We present a method to characterize star-formation driven outflows from edge-on galaxies and apply this method to the metal-poor starburst galaxy, Mrk 1486. Our method uses the distribution of emission line flux (from H β and [O iii] 5007) to identify the location of the outflow and measure the extent above the disc, the opening angle, and the transverse kinematics. We show that this simple technique recovers a similar distribution of the outflow without requiring complex modelling of line-splitting or multi-Gaussian components, and is therefore applicable to lower spectral resolution data. In Mrk 1486 we observe an asymmetric outflow in both the location of the peak flux and total flux from each lobe. We estimate an opening angle of 17–37° depending on the method and assumptions adopted. Within the minor axis outflows, we estimate a total mass outflow rate of ∼2.5 M⊙ yr−1, which corresponds to a mass loading factor of η = 0.7. We observe a non-negligible amount of flux from ionized gas outflowing along the edge of the disc (perpendicular to the biconical components), with a mass outflow rate ∼0.9 M⊙ yr−1. Our results are intended to demonstrate a method that can be applied to high-throughput low spectral resolution observations, such as narrow-band filters or low spectral resolution integral field spectrographs that may be more able to recover the faint emission from outflows.

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  7. Carbon monoxide (CO) emission constitutes the most widely used tracer of the bulk molecular gas in the interstellar medium (ISM) in extragalactic studies. The CO-to-H 2 conversion factor, α 12 CO(1−0) , links the observed CO emission to the total molecular gas mass. However, no single prescription perfectly describes the variation of α 12 CO(1−0) across all environments within and across galaxies as a function of metallicity, molecular gas opacity, line excitation, and other factors. Using spectral line observations of CO and its isotopologues mapped across a nearby galaxy, we can constrain the molecular gas conditions and link them to a variation in α 12 CO(1−0) . Here, we present new, wide-field (10 × 10 arcmin 2 ) IRAM 30-m telescope 1 mm and 3 mm line observations of 12 CO, 13 CO, and C 18 O across the nearby, grand-design, spiral galaxy M101. From the CO isotopologue line ratio analysis alone, we find that selective nucleosynthesis and changes in the opacity are the main drivers of the variation in the line emission across the galaxy. In a further analysis step, we estimated α 12 CO(1−0) using different approaches, including (i) via the dust mass surface density derived from far-IR emission as an independent tracer of the total gas surface density and (ii) local thermal equilibrium (LTE) based measurements using the optically thin 13 CO(1–0) intensity. We find an average value of ⟨ α 12 CO(1 − 0) ⟩ = 4.4  ±  0.9  M ⊙  pc −2  (K km s −1 ) −1 across the disk of the galaxy, with a decrease by a factor of 10 toward the 2 kpc central region. In contrast, we find LTE-based α 12 CO(1−0) values are lower by a factor of 2–3 across the disk relative to the dust-based result. Accounting for α 12 CO(1−0) variations, we found significantly reduced molecular gas depletion time by a factor 10 in the galaxy’s center. In conclusion, our result suggests implications for commonly derived scaling relations, such as an underestimation of the slope of the Kennicutt Schmidt law, if α 12 CO(1−0) variations are not accounted for. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  8. Abstract

    Determining how the galactic environment, especially the high gas densities and complex dynamics in bar-fed galaxy centers, alters the star formation efficiency (SFE) of molecular gas is critical to understanding galaxy evolution. However, these same physical or dynamical effects also alter the emissivity properties of CO, leading to variations in the CO-to-H2conversion factor (αCO) that impact the assessment of the gas column densities and thus of the SFE. To address such issues, we investigate the dependence ofαCOon the local CO velocity dispersion at 150 pc scales using a new set of dust-basedαCOmeasurements and propose a newαCOprescription that accounts for CO emissivity variations across galaxies. Based on this prescription, we estimate the SFE in a sample of 65 galaxies from the PHANGS–Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array survey. We find increasing SFE toward high-surface-density regions like galaxy centers, while using a constant or metallicity-basedαCOresults in a more homogeneous SFE throughout the centers and disks. Our prescription further reveals a mean molecular gas depletion time of 700 Myr in the centers of barred galaxies, which is overall three to four times shorter than in nonbarred galaxy centers or the disks. Across the galaxy disks, the depletion time is consistently around 2–3 Gyr, regardless of the choice ofαCOprescription. All together, our results suggest that the high level of star formation activity in barred centers is not simply due to an increased amount of molecular gas, but also to an enhanced SFE compared to nonbarred centers or disk regions.

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  9. Abstract NGC 602 is a young, low-metallicity star cluster in the “Wing” of the Small Magellanic Cloud. We reveal the recent evolutionary past of the cluster through analysis of high-resolution (∼0.4 pc) Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array observations of molecular gas in the associated H ii region N90. We identify 110 molecular clumps ( R < 0.8 pc) traced by CO emission, and study the relationship between the clumps and associated young stellar objects (YSOs) and pre-main-sequence (PMS) stars. The clumps have high virial parameters (typical α vir = 4–11) and may retain signatures of a collision in the last ≲8 Myr between H i components of the adjacent supergiant shell SMC-SGS 1. We obtain a CO-bright-to-H 2 gas conversion factor of X CO, B = (3.4 ± 0.2) × 10 20 cm −2 (K km s −1 ) −1 , and correct observed clump properties for CO-dark H 2 gas to derive a total molecular gas mass in N90 of 16,600 ± 2400 M ⊙ . We derive a recent (≲1 Myr) star formation rate of 130 ± 30 M ⊙ Myr −1 with an efficiency of 8% ± 3% assessed through comparing total YSO mass to total molecular gas mass. Very few significant radial trends exist between clump properties or PMS star ages and distance from NGC 602. We do not find evidence for a triggered star formation scenario among the youngest (≲2 Myr) stellar generations, and instead conclude that a sequential star formation process in which NGC 602 did not directly cause recent star formation in the region is likely. 
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  10. Abstract The CO-to-H 2 conversion factor ( α CO ) is central to measuring the amount and properties of molecular gas. It is known to vary with environmental conditions, and previous studies have revealed lower α CO in the centers of some barred galaxies on kiloparsec scales. To unveil the physical drivers of such variations, we obtained Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array bands (3), (6), and (7) observations toward the inner ∼2 kpc of NGC 3627 and NGC 4321 tracing 12 CO, 13 CO, and C 18 O lines on ∼100 pc scales. Our multiline modeling and Bayesian likelihood analysis of these data sets reveal variations of molecular gas density, temperature, optical depth, and velocity dispersion, which are among the key drivers of α CO . The central 300 pc nuclei in both galaxies show strong enhancement of temperature T k ≳ 100 K and density n H 2 > 10 3 cm −3 . Assuming a CO-to-H 2 abundance of 3 × 10 −4 , we derive 4–15 times lower α CO than the Galactic value across our maps, which agrees well with previous kiloparsec-scale measurements. Combining the results with our previous work on NGC 3351, we find a strong correlation of α CO with low- J 12 CO optical depths ( τ CO ), as well as an anticorrelation with T k . The τ CO correlation explains most of the α CO variation in the three galaxy centers, whereas changes in T k influence α CO to second order. Overall, the observed line width and 12 CO/ 13 CO 2–1 line ratio correlate with τ CO variation in these centers, and thus they are useful observational indicators for α CO variation. We also test current simulation-based α CO prescriptions and find a systematic overprediction, which likely originates from the mismatch of gas conditions between our data and the simulations. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024