The interstellar medium and star formation in local galaxies: variations of the star formation law in simulations
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We use the adaptive mesh refinement code Enzo to model the interstellar medium (ISM) in isolated local disk galaxies. The simulation includes a treatment for star formation and stellar feedback. We get a highly supersonic turbulent disk, which is fragmented at multiple scales and characterized by a multi-phase ISM. We show that a Kennicutt–Schmidt relation only holds when averaging over large scales. However, values of star formation rates and gas surface densities lie close in the plot for any averaging size. This suggests an intrinsic relation between stars and gas at cell-size scales, which dominates over the global dynamical evolution. To investigate this effect, we develop a method to simulate the creation of stars based on the density field from the snapshots, without running the code again.We also investigate how the star formation law is affected by the characteristic star formation timescale, the density threshold, and the efficiency considered in the recipe.We find that the slope of the law varies from ∼1.4 for a free-fall timescale, to ∼1.0 for a constant depletion timescale. We further demonstrate that a power law is recovered just by assuming that the mass of the new stars is a fraction of the mass of the cell m = ρgasΔx3, with no other physical criteria required. We show that both efficiency and density threshold do not affect the slope, but the right combination of them can adjust the normalization of the relation, which in turn could explain a possible bi-modality in the law.
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F.B. acknowledges support from Programa Nacional de Becas de Postgrado (grant D- 22100632). A.E. acknowledges partial support from the Center for Astrophysics and Associated Technologies CATA (PFB 06), Anillo de Ciencia y Tecnolog´ıa (Project ACT1101), and Proyecto Regular Fondecyt (grant 1130458).
Quote ItemThe Astrophysical Journal, 786:56 (13 pp), 2014 May 1