Control of star formation in galaxies by gravitational instability

Yuexing Li, Mordecai Mark Mac Low, Ralf S. Klessen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

60 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We study gravitational instability and consequent star formation in a wide range of isolated disk galaxies, using three-dimensional smoothed particle hydrodynamics simulations at a resolution sufficient to fully resolve gravitational collapse. Stellar feedback is represented by an isothermal equation of state. Absorbing sink particles are inserted in dynamically bound, converging regions with number density n > 103 cm-3 to directly measure the mass of gravitationally collapsing gas available for star formation. Our models quantitatively reproduce not only the observed Schmidt law, but also the observed star formation threshold in disk galaxies. Our results suggest that the dominant physical mechanism determining the star formation rate is just the strength of gravitational instability, with feedback primarily functioning to maintain a roughly constant effective sound speed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L19-L22
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume620
Issue number1 II
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 10 2005

Fingerprint

gravitational instability
star formation
disk galaxies
galaxies
equation of state
gravitational collapse
hydrodynamics
star formation rate
sinks
equations of state
gas
simulation
thresholds
acoustics
gases
particle
rate
speed
sound

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Li, Yuexing ; Low, Mordecai Mark Mac ; Klessen, Ralf S. / Control of star formation in galaxies by gravitational instability. In: Astrophysical Journal. 2005 ; Vol. 620, No. 1 II. pp. L19-L22.
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Control of star formation in galaxies by gravitational instability. / Li, Yuexing; Low, Mordecai Mark Mac; Klessen, Ralf S.

In: Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 620, No. 1 II, 10.02.2005, p. L19-L22.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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