The volumetric star formation law for nearby galaxies: Extension to dwarf galaxies and low-density regions

Cecilia Bacchini*, Filippo Fraternali, Gabriele Pezzulli, Antonino Marasco

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

In the last decades, much effort has been put into finding the star formation law, which could unequivocally link the gas and the star formation rate (SFR) densities measured on a sub-kiloparsec scale in star-forming galaxies. The conventional approach of using the observed surface densities to infer star formation laws has however revealed a major and well-known issue, as such relations are valid for the high-density regions of galaxies but break down in low-density and HI-dominated environments. Recently, an empirical correlation between the total gas (HI+H-2) and the SFR volume densities was obtained for a sample of nearby disc galaxies and for the Milky Way. This volumetric star formation (VSF) law is a single power-law with no break and a smaller intrinsic scatter with respect to the star formation laws based on the surface density. In this work, we explore the VSF law in the regime of dwarf galaxies in order to test its validity in HI-dominated, low-density, and low-metallicity environments. In addition, we assess this relation in the outskirts of spiral galaxies, which are low-density and HI-dominated regions similar to dwarf galaxies. Remarkably, we find that the VSF law, namely rho SFR / proportional to rho alpha gas with ff with alpha approximate to 2, is valid for both these regimes. This result indicates that the VSF law, which holds unbroken for a wide range of gas (approximate to 3 dex) and SFR (approximate to 6 dex) volume densities, is the empirical relation with the smallest intrinsic scatter and is likely more fundamental than surface-based star formation laws.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125
Number of pages16
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Volume644
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10-Dec-2020

Keywords

  • stars: formation
  • ISM: structure
  • galaxies: dwarf
  • galaxies: spiral
  • galaxies: star formation
  • galaxies: structure
  • ROTATION CURVES
  • SCHMIDT-LAW
  • FORMATION THRESHOLDS
  • FORMATION RATES
  • GAS ACCRETION
  • MOLECULAR GAS
  • MILKY-WAY
  • ULTRAVIOLET
  • EDGE
  • SHAPE

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