Monday, August 5, 2013

1308.0339 (Samantha M. Benincasa et al.)

Giant Molecular Cloud Formation in Disk Galaxies: Characterizing Simulated versus Observed Cloud Catalogues    [PDF]

Samantha M. Benincasa, Elizabeth J. Tasker, Ralph E. Pudritz, James Wadsley
We present the results of a study of simulated Giant Molecular Clouds (GMCs) formed in a Milky Way-type galactic disk with a flat rotation curve. This simulation, which does not include star formation or feedback, produces clouds with masses ranging between 10^4 Msun and 10^7 Msun. We compare our simulated cloud population to two observational surveys; The Boston University- Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory Galactic Ring Survey and the BIMA All-Disk Survey of M33. An analysis of the global cloud properties as well as a comparison of Larson's scaling relations is carried out. We find that simulated cloud properties agree well with the observed cloud properties, with the closest agreement occurring between the clouds at comparable resolution in M33. Our clouds are highly filamentary - a property that derives both from their formation due to gravitational instability in the sheared galactic environment, as well as to cloud- cloud gravitational encounters. We also find that the rate at which potentially star forming gas accumulates within dense regions - wherein n_{thresh} > 10^4 cm^{-3} - is 3% per 10 Myr, in clouds of roughly 10^6 Msun. This suggests that star formation rates in observed clouds are related to the rates at which gas can be accumulated into dense subregions within GMCs via filamentary flows. The most internally well-resolved clouds are chosen for listing in a catalogue of simulated GMCs; the first of its kind. The catalogued clouds are available as an extracted data set from the global simulation.
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