Adam K. Leroy

National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

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Publications (167)606.68 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We describe and execute a novel approach to observationally estimate the lifetimes of giant molecular clouds (GMCs). We focus on the cloud population between the two main spiral arms in M51 (the inter-arm region) where cloud destruction via shear and star formation feedback dominates over formation processes. By monitoring the change in GMC number densities and properties across the inter-arm, we estimate the lifetime as a fraction of the inter-arm travel time. We find that GMC lifetimes in M51's inter-arm are finite and short, 20–30 Myr. Over most of the region under investigation shear appears to regulate the lifetime. As the shear timescale increases with galactocentric radius, we expect cloud destruction to switch primarily to feedback at larger radii. We identify a transition from shear- to feedback-dominated disruption, finding that shear is more efficient at dispersing clouds, whereas feedback transforms the population, e.g., by fragmenting high-mass clouds into lower mass pieces. Compared to the characteristic timescale for molecular hydrogen in M51, our short lifetimes suggest that gas can remain molecular while clouds disperse and reassemble. We propose that galaxy dynamics regulates the cycling of molecular material from diffuse to bound (and ultimately star-forming) objects, contributing to long observed molecular depletion times in normal disk galaxies. We also speculate that, in extreme environments like elliptical galaxies and concentrated galaxy centers, star formation can be suppressed when the shear timescale is short enough that some clouds will not survive to form stars.
    The Astrophysical Journal 06/2015; 806(1):72. DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/806/1/72 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A major goal of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is to make accurate images with resolutions of tens of milliarcseconds, which at submillimeter (submm) wavelengths requires baselines up to ~15 km. To develop and test this capability, a Long Baseline Campaign (LBC) was carried out from September to late November 2014, culminating in end-to-end observations, calibrations, and imaging of selected Science Verification (SV) targets. This paper presents an overview of the campaign and its main results, including an investigation of the short-term coherence properties and systematic phase errors over the long baselines at the ALMA site, a summary of the SV targets and observations, and recommendations for science observing strategies at long baselines. Deep ALMA images of the quasar 3C138 at 97 and 241 GHz are also compared to VLA 43 GHz results, demonstrating an agreement at a level of a few percent. As a result of the extensive program of LBC testing, the highly successful SV imaging at long baselines achieved angular resolutions as fine as 19 mas at ~350 GHz. Observing with ALMA on baselines of up to 15 km is now possible, and opens up new parameter space for submm astronomy.
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    ABSTRACT: We measure the recent star formation history (SFH) across M31 using optical images taken with the \texit{Hubble Space Telescope} as part of the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury (PHAT). We fit the color-magnitude diagrams in ~9000 regions that are ~100 pc $\times$ 100 pc in projected size, covering a 0.5 square degree area (~380 kpc$^2$, deprojected) in the NE quadrant of M31. We show that the SFHs vary significantly on these small spatial scales but that there are also coherent galaxy-wide fluctuations in the SFH back to ~500 Myr, most notably in M31's 10-kpc star-forming ring. We find that the 10-kpc ring is at least 400 Myr old, showing ongoing star formation over the past ~500 Myr. This indicates the presence of molecular gas in the ring over at least 2 dynamical times at this radius. We also find that the ring's position is constant throughout this time, and is stationary at the level of 1 km/s, although there is evidence for broadening of the ring due to diffusion of stars into the disk. Based on existing models of M31's ring features, the lack of evolution in the ring's position makes a purely collisional ring origin highly unlikely. We find that the global SFR has been fairly constant over the last ~500 Myr, though it does show a small increase at 50 Myr that is 1.3 times the average SFR over the past 100 Myr. During the last ~500 Myr, ~60% of all SF occurs in the 10-kpc ring. Finally, we find that in the past 100 Myr, the average SFR over the PHAT survey area is $0.28\pm0.03$ M$_\odot$ yr$^{-1}$ with an average deprojected intensity of $7.3 \times 10^{-4}$ M$_\odot$ yr$^{-1}$ kpc$^{-2}$, which yields a total SFR of ~0.7 M$_\odot$ yr$^{-1}$ when extrapolated to the entire area of M31's disk. This SFR is consistent with measurements from broadband estimates. [abridged]
    The Astrophysical Journal 04/2015; 805(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/805/2/183 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To test the theoretical understanding that finding bright CO emission depends primarily on dust shielding, we investigate the relationship between CO emission (ICO) and the amount of dust (estimated from infrared emission and expressed as ‘AV’) across the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), the Small Magellanic Cloud, and the Milky Way. We show that at our common resolution of 10 pc scales, ICO given a fixed line of sight AV is similar across all three systems despite the difference in metallicity. We find some evidence for a secondary dependence of ICO on radiation field; in the LMC, ICO at a given AV is smaller in regions of high Tdust, perhaps because of an increased photodissociating radiation field. We suggest a simple but useful picture in which the CO-to-H2 conversion factor (XCO) depends on two separable factors: (1) the distribution of gas column densities, which maps to an extinction distribution via a dust-to-gas ratio; and (2) the dependence of ICO on AV. Assuming that the probability distribution function (PDF) of local Milky Way clouds is universal, this approach predicts a dependence of ${X_{\rm CO}}$ on Z between Z−1 and Z−2 above about a third solar metallicity. Below this metallicity, CO emerges from only the high column density parts of the cloud and so depends very sensitively on the adopted PDF and the H2/H i prescription. The PDF of low-metallicity clouds is thus of considerable interest and the uncertainty associated with even an ideal prescription for XCO at very low metallicity will be large.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 04/2015; 450(3). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stv863 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A major goal of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is to make accurate images with resolutions of tens of milliarcseconds, which at submillimeter (submm) wavelengths requires baselines up to ~15 km. To develop and test this capability, a Long Baseline Campaign (LBC) was carried out from September to late November 2014, culminating in end-to-end observations, calibrations, and imaging of selected Science Verification (SV) targets. This paper presents an overview of the campaign and its main results, including an investigation of the short-term coherence properties and systematic phase errors over the long baselines at the ALMA site, a summary of the SV targets and observations, and recommendations for science observing strategies at long baselines. Deep ALMA images of the quasar 3C138 at 97 and 241 GHz are also compared to VLA 43 GHz results, demonstrating an agreement at a level of a few percent. As a result of the extensive program of LBC testing, the highly successful SV imaging at long baselines achieved angular resolutions as fine as 19 mas at ~350 GHz. Observing with ALMA on baselines of up to 15 km is now possible, and opens up new parameter space for submm astronomy.
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters 04/2015; · 5.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present an analysis of the physical conditions in an extreme molecular cloud in the Antennae merging galaxies. This cloud has properties consistant with those required to form a globular cluster. We have obtained ALMA CO and 870$\mu$m observations of the Antennae galaxy system with $\sim 0".5$ resolution. This cloud stands out in the data with a radius of $\lesssim 24$~pc and mass of $>5\times 10^6$~M$_\odot$. The cloud appears capable of forming a globular cluster, but the lack of associated thermal radio emission indicates that star formation has not yet altered the environment. The lack of thermal radio emission places the cloud in an early stage of evolution, which we expect to be short-lived ($\lesssim 1$~Myr) and thus rare. Given its mass and kinetic energy, for the cloud to be confined (as its appearance strongly suggests) it must be subject to an external pressure of P/$k_B \gtrsim 10^8$~K~cm$^{-3}$ -- 10,000 times higher than typical interstellar pressure. This would support theories that high pressures are required to form globular clusters and may explain why extreme environments like the Antennae are preferred environments for generating such objects. Given the cloud temperature of $\sim 25$~K, the internal pressure must be dominated by non-thermal processes, most likely turbulence. We expect the molecular cloud to collapse and begin star formation in $\lesssim 1$~Myr.
    The Astrophysical Journal 03/2015; 806(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/806/1/35 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The [C II] 157.74 μm transition is the dominant coolant of the neutral interstellar gas, and has great potential as a star formation rate (SFR) tracer. Using the Herschel KINGFISH sample of 46 nearby galaxies, we investigate the relation of [C II] surface brightness and luminosity with SFR. We conclude that [C II] can be used for measurements of SFR on both global and kiloparsec scales in normal star-forming galaxies in the absence of strong active galactic nuclei (AGNs). The uncertainty of the Σ[C II] - ΣSFR calibration is ±0.21 dex. The main source of scatter in the correlation is associated with regions that exhibit warm IR colors, and we provide an adjustment based on IR color that reduces the scatter. We show that the color-adjusted Σ[C II] - ΣSFR correlation is valid over almost five orders of magnitude in ΣSFR, holding for both normal star-forming galaxies and non-AGN luminous infrared galaxies. Using [C II] luminosity instead of surface brightness to estimate SFR suffers from worse systematics, frequently underpredicting SFR in luminous infrared galaxies even after IR color adjustment (although this depends on the SFR measure employed). We suspect that surface brightness relations are better behaved than the luminosity relations because the former are more closely related to the local far-UV field strength, most likely the main parameter controlling the efficiency of the conversion of far-UV radiation into gas heating. A simple model based on Starburst99 population-synthesis code to connect SFR to [C II] finds that heating efficiencies are 1%-3% in normal galaxies.
    The Astrophysical Journal 02/2015; 800(1):1. DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/800/1/1 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present spatially resolved ($\sim$50 pc) imaging of molecular gas species in the central kiloparsec of the nearby starburst galaxy NGC 253, based on observations taken with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). A total of 50 molecular lines are detected over a 13 GHz bandwidth imaged in the 3 mm band. Unambiguous identifications are assigned for 27 lines. Based on the measured high CO/C$^{17}$O isotopic line ratio ($\gtrsim$350), we show that $^{12}$CO(1-0) has moderate optical depths. A comparison of the HCN and HCO$^{+}$ with their $^{13}$C-substituted isotopologues shows that the HCN(1-0) and HCO$^{+}$(1-0) lines have optical depths at least comparable to CO(1-0). H$^{13}$CN/H$^{13}$CO$^{+}$ (and H$^{13}$CN/HN$^{13}$C) line ratios provide tighter constraints on dense gas properties in this starburst. SiO has elevated abundances across the nucleus. HNCO has the most distinctive morphology of all the bright lines, with its global luminosity dominated by the outer parts of the central region. The dramatic variation seen in the HNCO/SiO line ratio suggests that some of the chemical signatures of shocked gas are being erased in the presence of dominating central radiation fields (traced by C$_{2}$H and CN). High density molecular gas tracers (including HCN, HCO$^+$, and CN) are detected at the base of the molecular outflow. We also detect hydrogen $\beta$ recombination lines that, like their $\alpha$ counterparts, show compact, centrally peaked morphologies, distinct from the molecular gas tracers. A number of sulfur based species are mapped (CS, SO, NS, C$_{2}$S, H$_{2}$CS and CH$_{3}$SH) and have morphologies similar to SiO.
    The Astrophysical Journal 01/2015; 801(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/801/1/63 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent studies of the molecular medium in nearby galaxies have provided mounting evidence that the molecular gas can exist in two phases: one that is clumpy and organized as molecular clouds and another one that is more diffuse. This last component has a higher velocity dispersion than the clumpy one. In order to investigate these two molecular components further, we compare the fluxes and line widths of CO in NGC 4736 and NGC 5055, two nearby spiral galaxies for which high-quality interferometric as well as single-dish data sets are available. Our analysis leads to two main results: 1) Employing three different methods, we determine the flux recovery of the interferometer as compared to the single-dish to be within a range of 35-74% for NGC4736 and 81-92% for NGC5055, and 2) when focusing on high (SNR>5) lines of sight, the single-dish line widths are larger by ~(40+-20)% than the ones derived from interferometric data; which is in agreement with stacking all lines of sight. These results point to a molecular gas component that is distributed over spatial scales larger than 30"(~1kpc), and is therefore filtered out by the interferometer. The available observations do not allow us to distinguish between a truly diffuse gas morphology and a uniform distribution of small clouds that are separated by less than the synthesized beam size (~3" or ~100pc), as they would both be invisible for the interferometer. This high velocity dispersion component has a dispersion similar to what is found in the atomic medium, as traced through observations of the HI line.
    The Astronomical Journal 01/2015; 149(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-6256/149/2/76 · 4.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We use ALMA to derive the mass, length, and time scales associated with the nuclear starburst in NGC 253. This region forms ~2 M_sun/yr of stars and resembles other starbursts in scaling relations, with star formation consuming the gas reservoir 10 times faster than in galaxy disks. We present observations of CO, the high effective density transitions HCN(1-0), HCO+(1-0), CS(2-1), and their isotopologues. We identify ten clouds that appear as peaks in line emission and enhancements in the HCN-to-CO ratio. These clouds are massive (~10^7 M_sun) structures with sizes (~30 pc) similar to GMCs in other systems. Compared to disk galaxy GMCs, they show high line widths (~20-40 km/s) given their size, with implied Mach numbers ~90. The clouds also show high surface (~6,000 M_sun/pc^2) and volume densities (n_H2~2,000 cm^-3). Given these, self-gravity can explain the line widths. This short free fall time (~0.7 Myr) helps explain the more efficient star formation in NGC 253. We also consider the starburst region as a whole. The geometry is confused by the high inclination, but simple models support a non-axisymmetric, bar-like geometry with a compact, clumpy region of high gas density embedded in an extended CO distribution. Even for the whole region, the surface density still exceeds that of a disk galaxy GMC. The orbital time (~10 Myr), disk free fall time (<~ 3 Myr), and disk crossing time (<~ 3 Myr) are each much shorter than in a normal spiral galaxy disk. Some but not all aspects of the structure correspond to predictions from assuming vertical dynamical equilibrium or a marginally stable rotating disk. Finally, the CO-to-H2 conversion factor implied by our cloud calculations is approximately Galactic, contrasting with results showing a low value for the whole starburst region. The contrast provides resolved support for the idea of mixed molecular ISM phases in starburst galaxies.
    The Astrophysical Journal 11/2014; 801(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/801/1/25 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We use a sample of 36 galaxies from the KINGFISH (Herschel IR), HERACLES (IRAM CO), and THINGS (VLA HI) surveys to study empirical relations between Herschel infrared (IR) luminosities and the total mass of the interstellar gas (H2+HI). Such a comparison provides a simple empirical relationship without introducing the uncertainty of dust model fitting. We find tight correlations, and provide fits to these relations, between Herschel luminosities and the total gas mass integrated over entire galaxies, with the tightest, almost linear, correlation found for the longest wavelength data (SPIRE500). However, we find that accounting for the gas-phase metallicity (affecting the dust-to-gas ratio) is crucial when applying these relations to low-mass, and presumably high-redshift, galaxies. The molecular (H2) gas mass is found to be better correlated with the peak of the IR emission (e.g. PACS160), driven mostly by the correlation of stellar mass and mean dust temperature. When examining these relations as a function of galactocentric radius we find the same correlations, albeit with a larger scatter, up to a radius of 0.7 r_25 (within which most of the galaxy's baryonic mass resides). However, beyond this radius the same correlations no longer hold, with the gas mass (predominantly HI) increasing relative to the infrared emission. The tight relations found for the bulk of the galaxy's baryonic content suggest that the total gas masses of disk-like (non-merging) galaxies can be inferred from far-infrared continuum measurements in situations where only the latter are available, e.g. in ALMA continuum observations of high-redshift galaxies.
    The Astrophysical Journal 11/2014; 799(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/799/1/96 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present new Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array radio continuum images of the nuclei of Arp 220, the nearest ultra-luminous infrared galaxy. These images have both the angular resolution to study detailed morphologies of the two nuclei that power the system and sensitivity to a wide range of spatial scales. At 33 GHz, and with a resolution of 0".081 x 0".063 (29.9 x 23.3 pc), we resolve the emission surrounding both nuclei and conclude that is mostly synchrotron in nature. The spatial distributions of radio emission in both nuclei are well described by exponential profiles. These have deconvolved half-light radii of 51 and 35 pc for the eastern and western nuclei, and they match the number density profile of radio supernovae observed with very long baseline interferometry. This similarity might be due to the fast cooling of cosmic rays electrons caused by the presence of a strong (~ mG) magnetic field in this system. We estimate high luminosity surface densities of $\mathrm{\Sigma_{IR} \sim 4.2^{+1.6}_{-0.7} \times 10^{13}}$ (east) and $\mathrm{\sim 9.7^{+3.7}_{-2.4} \times 10^{13}~(west)~L_{\odot}~kpc^{-2}}$, and star formation rate surface densities of $\mathrm{\Sigma_{SFR} \sim 10^{3.7\pm0.1}}$ (east) and $\mathrm{\sim 10^{4.1\pm0.1}~(west)~M_{\odot}~yr^{-1}~kpc^{-2}}$. These values, especially for the western nucleus are, to our knowledge, the highest luminosity and star formation rate surface densities measured for any star-forming system. Despite these high values, the nuclei lie below the dusty Eddington limit in which radiation pressure is balanced only by self-gravity. The small measured sizes also imply that the nuclei of Arp 220 are only transparent in the frequency range ~ 5 to 350 GHz. Our results offer no clear evidence that an active galactic nucleus dominates the emission from either nucleus at 33 GHz.
    The Astrophysical Journal 11/2014; 799(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/799/1/10 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The [CII] 158 micron line is one of the strongest emission lines observed in star-forming galaxies, and has been empirically measured to correlate with the star formation rate (SFR) globally and on ~kpc scales. However, due to the multi-phase origins of [CII], one might expect this relation to break down at small scales. We investigate the origins of [CII] emission by examining high spatial resolution observations of [CII] in M31, with the Survey of Lines in M31 (SLIM). We present five ~700x700 pc (3"x3") Fields mapping the [CII] emission, Halpha emission, combined with ancillary infrared (IR) data. We spatially separate star-forming regions from diffuse gas and dust emission on ~50 pc scales. We find that the [CII] - SFR correlation holds even at these scales, although the relation typically has a flatter slope than found at larger (~kpc) scales. While the Halpha emission in M31 is concentrated in the SFR regions, we find that a significant amount (~20-90%) of the [CII] emission comes from outside star-forming regions, and that the total IR (TIR) emission has the highest diffuse fraction of all SFR tracers. We find a weak correlation of the [CII]/TIR to dust color in each Field, and find a large scale trend of increasing [CII]/TIR with galactocentric radius. The differences in the relative diffuse fractions of [CII], Halpha and IR tracers are likely caused by a combination of energetic photon leakage from HII regions and heating by the diffuse radiation field arising from older (B-star) stellar populations. However, we find that by averaging our measurements over ~kpc scales, these effects are minimized, and the relation between [CII] and SFR found in other nearby galaxy studies is retrieved.
    The Astrophysical Journal 10/2014; 798(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/798/1/24 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the highest spatial resolution (~0.5") CO (3-2) observations to date of the "overlap" region in the merging Antennae galaxies (NGC 4038/39), taken with the ALMA. We report on the discovery of a long (3 kpc), thin (aspect ratio 30/1), filament of CO gas which breaks up into roughly ten individual knots. Each individual knot has a low internal velocity dispersion (~10 km/s), and the dispersion of the ensemble of knots in the filament is also low (~10 km/s). At the other extreme, we find that the individual clouds in the Super Giant Molecular Cloud 2 region discussed by Wilson and collaborators have a large range of internal velocity dispersions (10 to 80 km/s), and a large dispersion amongst the ensemble (~80 km/s). We use a combination of optical and near-IR data from HST, radio continuum observations taken with the VLA, and CO data from ALMA to develop an evolutionary classification system which provides a framework for studying the sequence of star cluster formation and evolution, from diffuse SGMCs, to proto, embedded, emerging, young, and intermediate/old clusters. The relative timescales have been assessed by determining the fractional population of sources at each evolutionary stage. Using the evolutionary framework, we estimate the maximum age range of clusters in a single SGMC is ~10 Myr, which suggests that the molecular gas is removed over this timescale resulting in the cessation of star formation and the destruction of the GMC within a radius of about 200 pc. (abridged)
    The Astrophysical Journal 10/2014; 795(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/795/2/156 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The [CII] 157.74 $\mu$m transition is the dominant coolant of the neutral interstellar gas, and has great potential as a star formation rate (SFR) tracer. Using the Herschel KINGFISH sample of 46 nearby galaxies, we investigate the relation of [CII] surface brightness and luminosity with SFR. We conclude that [CII] can be used for measurements of SFR on both global and kiloparsec scales in normal star-forming galaxies in the absence of strong active galactic nuclei (AGN). The uncertainty of the $\Sigma_{\rm [CII]}-\Sigma_{\rm SFR}$ calibration is $\pm$0.21 dex. The main source of scatter in the correlation is associated with regions that exhibit warm IR colors, and we provide an adjustment based on IR color that reduces the scatter. We show that the color-adjusted $\Sigma_{\rm[CII]}-\Sigma_{\rm SFR}$ correlation is valid over almost 5 orders of magnitude in $\Sigma_{\rm SFR}$, holding for both normal star-forming galaxies and non-AGN luminous infrared galaxies. Using [CII] luminosity instead of surface brightness to estimate SFR suffers from worse systematics, frequently underpredicting SFR in luminous infrared galaxies even after IR color adjustment (although this depends on the SFR measure employed). We suspect that surface brightness relations are better behaved than the luminosity relations because the former are more closely related to the local far-UV field strength, most likely the main parameter controlling the efficiency of the conversion of far-UV radiation into gas heating. A simple model based on Starburst99 population-synthesis code to connect SFR to [CII] finds that heating efficiencies are $1\%-3\%$ in normal galaxies.
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    ABSTRACT: Observed HI accretion around nearby galaxies can only account for a fraction of the gas supply needed to sustain the currently observed star formation rates. It is possible that additional accretion happens in the form of low column density cold flows, as predicted by numerical simulations of galaxy formation. To contrain the presence and properties of such flows, we present deep HI observations obtained with the NRAO Green Bank Telescope of an area measuring 4 by 4 degrees around NGC 2403. These observations, with a 5 sigma detection limit of 2.4 x 10^18 cm^-2 over a 20 km/s linewidth, reveal the presence of a low-column density, extended cloud outside the main HI disk, about 17' (~16 kpc or ~2R25) to the NW of the center of the galaxy. The total HI mass of the cloud is 6.3 x 10^6 Msun, or 0.15 percent of the total HI mass of NGC 2403. The cloud is associated with an 8-kpc anomalous-velocity HI filament in the inner disk, previously observed in deep VLA observations by Fraternali et al. (2001, 2002). We discuss several scenarios for the origin of the cloud, and conclude that it is either accreting from the intergalactic medium, or is the result of a minor interaction with a neigbouring dwarf galaxy.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 07/2014; 569. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201423880 · 4.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We use observed radial profiles of mass surface densities of total, $\Sigma_g$, & molecular, $\Sigma_{\rm H2}$, gas, rotation velocity & star formation rate (SFR) surface density, $\Sigma_{\rm sfr}$, of the molecular-rich ($\Sigma_{\rm H2}\ge\Sigma_{\rm HI}/2$) regions of 16 nearby disk galaxies to test several star formation laws: a Kennicutt-Schmidt law, $\Sigma_{\rm sfr}=A_g\Sigma_{g,2}^{1.5}$; a Constant Molecular law, $\Sigma_{\rm sfr}=A_{\rm H2}\Sigma_{\rm H2,2}$; the turbulence-regulated laws of Krumholz & McKee (KM05) and Krumholz et al. (KMT09), a Gas-$\Omega$ law, $\Sigma_{\rm sfr}=B_\Omega\Sigma_g\Omega$; and a shear-driven GMC Collision law, $\Sigma_{\rm sfr}=B_{\rm CC}\Sigma_g\Omega(1-0.7\beta)$, where $\beta\equiv d {\rm ln} v_{\rm circ}/d {\rm ln} r$. If allowed one free normalization parameter for each galaxy, these laws predict the SFR with rms errors of factors of 1.4 - 1.8. If a single normalization parameter is used by each law for the entire galaxy sample, then rms errors range from factors of 1.5 - 2.1. Although the Constant Molecular law gives the smallest errors, the improvement over KMT, Kennicutt-Schmidt & GMC Collision laws is not especially significant, particularly given the different observational inputs that the laws utilize and the scope of included physics, which ranges from empirical relations to detailed treatment of interstellar medium processes. We next search for variation of star formation law parameters with local & global galactic dynamical properties of disk shear rate (related to $\beta$), rotation speed & presence of a bar. We demonstrate with high significance that higher shear rates enhance star formation efficiency per local orbital time. Such a trend is expected if GMC collisions play an important role in star formation, while an opposite trend would be expected if development of disk gravitational instabilities is the controlling physics.
    The Astrophysical Journal 04/2014; 787(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/787/1/68 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The kinematic complexity and the favorable position of M51 on the sky make this galaxy an ideal target to test different theories of spiral arm dynamics. Taking advantage of the new high-resolution PdBI Arcsecond Whirlpool Survey data, we undertake a detailed kinematic study of M51 to characterize and quantify the origin and nature of the non-circular motions. Using a tilted-ring analysis supported by several other archival data sets, we update the estimation of M51's position angle (P.A. = (173 ± 3)°) and inclination (i = (22 ± 5)°). Harmonic decomposition of the high-resolution (~40 pc) CO velocity field shows the first kinematic evidence of an m = 3 wave in the inner disk of M51 with a corotation at R CR, m = 3 = 1.1 ± 0.1 kpc and a pattern speed of Ω p, m = 3 ≈ 140 km s-1 kpc-1. This mode seems to be excited by the nuclear bar, while the beat frequencies generated by the coupling between the m = 3 mode and the main spiral structure confirm its density-wave nature. We observe also a signature of an m = 1 mode that is likely responsible for the lopsidedness of M51 at small and large radii. We provide a simple method to estimate the radial variation of the amplitude of the spiral perturbation (V sp) attributed to the different modes. The main spiral arm structure has langV sprang = 50-70 km s-1, while the streaming velocity associated with the m = 1 and m = 3 modes is, in general, two times lower. Our joint analysis of H I and CO velocity fields at low and high spatial resolution reveals that the atomic and molecular gas phases respond differently to the spiral perturbation due to their different vertical distribution and emission morphology. Based on observations carried out with the IRAM Plateau de Bure Interferometer and 30 m telescope. IRAM is operated by INSY/CNRS (France), MPG (Germany), and IGN (Spain).
    The Astrophysical Journal 03/2014; 784(1):4. DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/784/1/4 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We study the spatially resolved Radio Continuum-Star Formation Rate (RC-SFR) relation using state-of-the-art star-formation (SF) tracers in a sample of 17 THINGS galaxies. We use hybrid Sigma_SFR maps (GALEX FUV plus Spitzer 24 mu), RC maps at 22/18 cm from the WSRT SINGS survey, and H-alpha maps to correct for thermal RC emission. We compare azimuthally averaged radial profiles of the RC and FUV/MIR-based Sigma_SFR maps and study pixel-by-pixel correlations at fixed linear scales of 1.2 and 0.7 kpc. The ratio of the integrated SFRs from the RC emission to that of the FUV/MIR-based SF tracers is R_int = 0.78 +/- 0.38, consistent with Condon's relation. We find a tight correlation between the radial profiles of the radio and FUV/MIR-based Sigma_SFR for the entire extent of the disk. The ratio R of the azimuthally averaged radio to FUV/MIR-based Sigma_SFR agrees with the integrated ratio with only small quasi-random fluctuations as function of radius. Pixel-by-pixel plots show a tight correlation in log-log diagrams of radio to FUV/MIR-based Sigma_SFR, with a typical standard deviation of a factor of two. Averaged over our sample we find (Sigma_SFR)_RC ~ (Sigma_SFR)_hyb^{0.63+/-0.25} implying that data points with high Sigma_SFR are relatively radio bright, whereas the reverse is true for low Sigma_SFR. We interpret this as a result of spectral ageing of CRe, which is supported by the radio spectral index: data points dominated by young CRe are relatively radio dim, those dominated by old CRe are relatively radio dim. The ratio of radio to FUV/MIR-based integrated SFR is independent of global galaxy parameters, suggesting that we can use RC emission as a universal SF tracer for galaxies, if we restrict ourselves to global or azimuthally averaged measurements. A magnetic field-SFR relation, B ~ SFR_hyb^{0.30+/-0.02}, holding both globally and locally, can explain our results. (abridged)
    The Astronomical Journal 02/2014; 147(5). DOI:10.1088/0004-6256/147/5/103 · 4.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Using data from the PdBI Arcsecond Whirlpool Survey (PAWS), we have generated the largest extragalactic giant molecular cloud (GMC) catalog to date, containing 1507 individual objects. GMCs in the inner M51 disk account for only 54% of the total 12CO(1-0) luminosity of the survey, but on average they exhibit physical properties similar to Galactic GMCs. We do not find a strong correlation between the GMC size and velocity dispersion, and a simple virial analysis suggests that ~30% of GMCs in M51 are unbound. We have analyzed the GMC properties within seven dynamically motivated galactic environments, finding that GMCs in the spiral arms and in the central region are brighter and have higher velocity dispersions than inter-arm clouds. Globally, the GMC mass distribution does not follow a simple power-law shape. Instead, we find that the shape of the mass distribution varies with galactic environment: the distribution is steeper in inter-arm region than in the spiral arms, and exhibits a sharp truncation at high masses for the nuclear bar region. We propose that the observed environmental variations in the GMC properties and mass distributions are a consequence of the combined action of large-scale dynamical processes and feedback from high-mass star formation. We describe some challenges of using existing GMC identification techniques for decomposing the 12CO(1-0) emission in molecule-rich environments, such as M51's inner disk. Based on observations carried out with the IRAM Plateau de Bure Interferometer and 30 m telescope. IRAM is operated by INSY/CNRS (France), MPG (Germany) and IGN (Spain).
    The Astrophysical Journal 01/2014; 784(1):3. DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/784/1/3 · 6.28 Impact Factor

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4k Citations
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Institutions

  • 2006–2015
    • National Radio Astronomy Observatory
      Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
    • University of Victoria
      Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2014
    • University of Virginia
      • Department of Astronomy
      Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
  • 2006–2012
    • Max Planck Institute for Astronomy
      Heidelburg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
  • 2011
    • Nagoya University
      Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
  • 2010
    • Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France
  • 2001–2008
    • University of California, Berkeley
      • • Department of Astronomy
      • • Radio Astronomy Laboratory
      Berkeley, CA, United States
  • 2007
    • University of Maryland, College Park
      • Department of Astronomy
      College Park, MD, United States