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Interpreting the sub-linear Kennicutt-Schmidt relationship: the case for diffuse molecular gas

Shetty, Rahul, Clark, Paul and Klessen, Ralf S. 2014. Interpreting the sub-linear Kennicutt-Schmidt relationship: the case for diffuse molecular gas. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 442 (3) , pp. 2208-2215. 10.1093/mnras/stu919

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Abstract

Recent statistical analysis of two extragalactic observational surveys strongly indicate a sub-linear Kennicutt–Schmidt (KS) relationship between the star formation rate (ΣSFR) and molecular gas surface density (Σmol). Here, we consider the consequences of these results in the context of common assumptions, as well as observational support for a linear relationship between ΣSFR and the surface density of dense gas. If the CO traced gas depletion time (τ CO dep τdepCO ) is constant, and if CO only traces star-forming giant molecular clouds (GMCs), then the physical properties of each GMC must vary, such as the volume densities or star formation rates. Another possibility is that the conversion between CO luminosity and Σmol, the XCO factor, differs from cloud-to-cloud. A more straightforward explanation is that CO permeates the hierarchical interstellar medium, including the filaments and lower density regions within which GMCs are embedded. A number of independent observational results support this description, with the diffuse gas comprising at least 30 per cent of the total molecular content. The CO bright diffuse gas can explain the sub-linear KS relationship, and consequently leads to an increasing τ CO dep τdepCO with Σmol. If ΣSFR linearly correlates with the dense gas surface density, a sub-linear KS relationship indicates that the fraction of diffuse gas fdiff grows with Σmol. In galaxies where Σmol falls towards the outer disc, this description suggests that fdiff also decreases radially.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0035-8711
Date of Acceptance: 6 May 2014
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2019 12:32
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/89661

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