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          Institute: MPI für Astronomie     Collection: Publikationen_mpia     Display Documents



ID: 720102.0, MPI für Astronomie / Publikationen_mpia
Short GMC lifetimes: An observational estimate with the PdBI Arcsecond Whirlpool Survey (PAWS)
Authors:Meidt, S. E.; Hughes, A.; Dobbs, C. L.; Pety, J.; Thompson, T. A.; García-Burillo, S.; Leroy, A. K.; Schinnerer, E.; Colombo, D.; Querejeta, M.; Kramer, C.; Schuster, K. F.; Dumas, G.
Date of Publication (YYYY-MM-DD):2015
Title of Journal:The Astrophysical Journal
Volume:806
Start Page:id. 72 (13 pp)
Audience:Not Specified
Abstract / Description: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.
Free Keywords:galaxies: individual: M51; ISM: clouds; ISM: kinematics and dynamics
External Publication Status:published
Document Type:Article
Communicated by:N. N.
Affiliations:MPI für Astronomie
Identifiers:ISSN:0004-637X
URL:http://cdsads.u-strasbg.fr/abs/2015ApJ...806...72M
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