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Title: Nonuniversal star formation efficiency in turbulent ISM

Here, we present a study of a star formation prescription in which star formation efficiency depends on local gas density and turbulent velocity dispersion, as suggested by direct simulations of SF in turbulent giant molecular clouds (GMCs). We test the model using a simulation of an isolated Milky Way-sized galaxy with a self-consistent treatment of turbulence on unresolved scales. We show that this prescription predicts a wide variation of local star formation efficiency per free-fall time, $$\epsilon_{\rm ff} \sim 0.1 - 10\%$$, and gas depletion time, $$t_{\rm dep} \sim 0.1 - 10$$ Gyr. In addition, it predicts an effective density threshold for star formation due to suppression of $$\epsilon_{\rm ff}$$ in warm diffuse gas stabilized by thermal pressure. We show that the model predicts star formation rates in agreement with observations from the scales of individual star-forming regions to the kiloparsec scales. This agreement is non-trivial, as the model was not tuned in any way and the predicted star formation rates on all scales are determined by the distribution of the GMC-scale densities and turbulent velocities $$\sigma$$ in the cold gas within the galaxy, which is shaped by galactic dynamics. The broad agreement of the star formation prescription calibrated in the GMC-scale simulations with observations, both gives credence to such simulations and promises to put star formation modeling in galaxy formation simulations on a much firmer theoretical footing.
ORCiD logo [1] ; ORCiD logo [1] ;  [2]
  1. The Univ. of Chicago, Chicago, IL (United States)
  2. The Univ. of Chicago, Chicago, IL (United States); Fermi National Accelerator Lab. (FNAL), Batavia, IL (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
arXiv:1512.03101; FERMILAB-PUB-16-503-A
Journal ID: ISSN 1538-4357; 1495139
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal (Online)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: The Astrophysical Journal (Online); Journal Volume: 826; Journal Issue: 2; Journal ID: ISSN 1538-4357
Institute of Physics (IOP)
Research Org:
Fermi National Accelerator Lab. (FNAL), Batavia, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), High Energy Physics (HEP) (SC-25)
Country of Publication:
United States
79 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS; galaxies: ISM; numerical; stars: formation; turbulence