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  1. Abstract

    The center of the nearby galaxy NGC 253 hosts a population of more than a dozen super star clusters (SSCs) that are still in the process of forming. The majority of the star formation of the burst is concentrated in these SSCs, and the starburst is powering a multiphase outflow from the galaxy. In this work, we measure the 350 GHz dust continuum emission toward the center of NGC 253 at 47 mas (0.8 pc) resolution using data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. We report the detection of 350 GHz (dust) continuum emission in the outflow for the first time, associated with the prominent South-West streamer. In this feature, the dust emission has a width of ≈8 pc, is located at the outer edge of the CO emission, and corresponds to a molecular gas mass of ∼(8–17)×106M. In the starburst nucleus, we measure the resolved radial profiles, sizes, and molecular gas masses of the SSCs. Compared to previous work at the somewhat lower spatial resolution, the SSCs here break apart into smaller substructures with radii 0.4–0.7 pc. In projection, the SSCs, dust, and dense molecular gas appear to be arranged as a thin, almost linear, structure roughly 155more »pc in length. The morphology and kinematics of this structure can be well explained as gas followingx2orbits at the center of a barred potential. We constrain the morpho-kinematic arrangement of the SSCs themselves, finding that an elliptical, angular-momentum-conserving ring is a good description of both the morphology and kinematics of the SSCs.

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  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. Abstract

    We combine JWST observations with Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array CO and Very Large Telescope MUSE Hαdata to examine off-spiral arm star formation in the face-on, grand-design spiral galaxy NGC 628. We focus on the northern spiral arm, around a galactocentric radius of 3–4 kpc, and study two spurs. These form an interesting contrast, as one is CO-rich and one CO-poor, and they have a maximum azimuthal offset in MIRI 21μm and MUSE Hαof around 40° (CO-rich) and 55° (CO-poor) from the spiral arm. The star formation rate is higher in the regions of the spurs near spiral arms, but the star formation efficiency appears relatively constant. Given the spiral pattern speed and rotation curve of this galaxy and assuming material exiting the arms undergoes purely circular motion, these offsets would be reached in 100–150 Myr, significantly longer than the 21μm and Hαstar formation timescales (both < 10 Myr). The invariance of the star formation efficiency in the spurs versus the spiral arms indicates massive star formation is not only triggered in spiral arms, and cannot simply occur in the arms and then drift away from the wave pattern. These early JWST results show that in situ star formation likelymore »occurs in the spurs, and that the observed young stars are not simply the “leftovers” of stellar birth in the spiral arms. The excellent physical resolution and sensitivity that JWST can attain in nearby galaxies will well resolve individual star-forming regions and help us to better understand the earliest phases of star formation.

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  5. ABSTRACT We use hydrodynamical simulations to study the Milky Way’s central molecular zone (CMZ). The simulations include a non-equilibrium chemical network, the gas self-gravity, star formation, and supernova feedback. We resolve the structure of the interstellar medium at sub-parsec resolution while also capturing the interaction between the CMZ and the bar-driven large-scale flow out to $R\sim 5\, {\rm kpc}$. Our main findings are as follows: (1) The distinction between inner (R ≲ 120 pc) and outer (120 ≲ R ≲ 450 pc) CMZ that is sometimes proposed in the literature is unnecessary. Instead, the CMZ is best described as single structure, namely a star-forming ring with outer radius R ≃ 200 pc which includes the 1.3° complex and which is directly interacting with the dust lanes that mediate the bar-driven inflow. (2) This accretion can induce a significant tilt of the CMZ out of the plane. A tilted CMZ might provide an alternative explanation to the ∞-shaped structure identified in Herschel data by Molinari et al. (3) The bar in our simulation efficiently drives an inflow from the Galactic disc (R ≃ 3 kpc) down to the CMZ (R ≃ 200 pc) of the order of $1\rm \, M_\odot \, yr^{-1}$, consistent with observational determinations. (4) Supernova feedback canmore »drive an inflow from the CMZ inwards towards the circumnuclear disc of the order of ${\sim}0.03\, \rm M_\odot \, yr^{-1}$. (5) We give a new interpretation for the 3D placement of the 20 and 50 km s−1 clouds, according to which they are close (R ≲ 30 pc) to the Galactic Centre, but are also connected to the larger scale streams at R ≳ 100 pc.« less
  6. Abstract The Milky Way’s central molecular zone (CMZ) has emerged in recent years as a unique laboratory for the study of star formation. Here we use the simulations presented in Tress et al. 2020 to investigate star formation in the CMZ. These simulations resolve the structure of the interstellar medium at sub-parsec resolution while also including the large-scale flow in which the CMZ is embedded. Our main findings are as follows. (1) While most of the star formation happens in the CMZ ring at R ≳ 100 pc, a significant amount also occurs closer to SgrA* at R ≲ 10 pc. (2) Most of the star formation in the CMZ happens downstream of the apocentres, consistent with the “pearls-on-a-string” scenario, and in contrast to the notion that an absolute evolutionary timeline of star formation is triggered by pericentre passage. (3) Within the timescale of our simulations (∼100 Myr), the depletion time of the CMZ is constant within a factor of ∼2. This suggests that variations in the star formation rate are primarily driven by variations in the mass of the CMZ, caused for example by AGN feedback or externally-induced changes in the bar-driven inflow rate, and not by variations in the depletion time. (4)more »We study the trajectories of newly born stars in our simulations. We find several examples that have age and 3D velocity compatible with those of the Arches and Quintuplet clusters. Our simulations suggest that these prominent clusters originated near the collision sites where the bar-driven inflow accretes onto the CMZ, at symmetrical locations with respect to the Galactic centre, and that they have already decoupled from the gas in which they were born.« less
  7. ABSTRACT Observations of molecular gas near the Galactic Centre (|l| < 10°, |b| < 1°) reveal the presence of a distinct population of enigmatic compact clouds that are characterized by extreme velocity dispersions ($\Delta v \gt 100\, {\rm km\, s^{-1}}$). These extended velocity features are very prominent in the data cubes and dominate the kinematics of molecular gas just outside the Central Molecular Zone (CMZ). The prototypical example of such a cloud is Bania Clump 2. We show that similar features are naturally produced in simulations of gas flow in a realistic barred potential. We analyse the structure of the features obtained in the simulations and use this to interpret the observations. We find that the features arise from collisions between material that has been infalling rapidly along the dust lanes of the Milky Way bar and material that belongs to one of the following two categories: (i) material that has ‘overshot’ after falling down the dust lanes on the opposite side; (ii) material which is part of the CMZ. Both types of collisions involve gas with large differences in the line-of-sight velocities, which is what produces the observed extreme velocity dispersions. Examples of both categories can be identified inmore »the observations. If our interpretation is correct, we are directly witnessing (a) collisions of clouds with relative speeds of $\sim 200\, {\rm km\, s^{-1}}$ and (b) the process of accretion of fresh gas onto the CMZ.« less
  8. 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 estimationmore »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.« less