Wednesday 5th Sept 2012


The impact of interactions, bars, bulges, and AGN on star formation efficiency in local massive galaxies

A. Saintonge (1,2), L.J. Tacconi (2), S. Fabello (1), J. Wang (1), B. Catinella (1), R. Genzel (2), J. Gracia-Carpio (2), C. Kramer (3), S. Moran (4), T.M. Heckman (4), D. Schiminovich (5), K. Schuster (3), S. Wuyts (2) ((1) MPA, (2) MPE, (3) IRAM, (4) Johns Hopkins, (5) Columbia)

Using observations from the GASS and COLD GASS surveys and complementary data from SDSS and GALEX, we investigate the nature of variations in gas depletion time observed across the local massive galaxy population. The large and unbiased COLD GASS sample allows us to assess the relative importance of galaxy interactions, bar instabilities, morphologies and the presence of AGN in regulating star formation efficiency. Both the H2 mass fraction and depletion time vary as a function of the distance of a galaxy from the main sequence in the SFR-M* plane. The longest gas depletion times are found in below-main sequence bulge-dominated galaxies that are either gas-poor, or else on average less efficient than disk-dominated galaxy at converting into stars any cold gas they may have. We find no link between AGN and these long depletion times. The galaxies undergoing mergers or showing signs of morphological disruptions have the shortest molecular gas depletion times, while those hosting strong stellar bars have only marginally higher global star formation efficiencies as compared to matched control samples. Our interpretation is that depletion time variations are caused by changes in the ratio between the gas mass traced by the CO(1-0) observations, and the gas mass in high density star-forming cores, with interactions, mergers and bar instabilities able to locally increase pressure and raise the ratio of efficiently star-forming gas to CO-detected gas. Building a sample representative of the local massive galaxy population, we derive a global Kennicutt-Schmidt relation of slope 1.18+/-0.24, and observe structure within the scatter around this relation, with galaxies having low (high) stellar mass surface densities lying systematically above (below) the mean relation, suggesting that gas surface density is not the only parameter driving the global star formation ability of a galaxy.

Herschel-ATLAS: the far-infrared properties and star-formation rates of broad absorption line quasi-stellar objects

J. M. Cao Orjales, J. A. Stevens, M. J. Jarvis, D. J. B. Smith, M. J. Hardcastle, R. Auld, M. Baes, A. Cava, D. L. Clements, A. Cooray, K. Coppin, A. Dariush, G. De Zotti, L. Dunne, S. Dye, S. Eales, R. Hopwood, C. Hoyos, E. Ibar, R. J. Ivison, S. Maddox, M. J. Page, E. Valiante

We have used data from the Herschel-ATLAS at 250, 350 and 500 \mu m to determine the far-infrared (FIR) properties of 50 Broad Absorption Line Quasars (BAL QSOs). Our sample contains 49 high-ionization BAL QSOs (HiBALs) and 1 low-ionization BAL QSO (LoBAL) which are compared against a sample of 329 non-BAL QSOs. These samples are matched over the redshift range 1.5 \leq z < 2.3 and in absolute i-band magnitude over the range -28 \leq M_{i} \leq -24. Of these, 3 BAL QSOs (HiBALs) and 27 non-BAL QSOs are detected at the > 5 sigma level. We calculate star-formation rates (SFR) for our individually detected HiBAL QSOs and the non-detected LoBAL QSO as well as average SFRs for the BAL and non-BAL QSO samples based on stacking the Herschel data. We find no difference between the HiBAL and non-BAL QSO samples in the FIR, even when separated based on differing BAL QSO classifications. Using Mrk 231 as a template, the weighted mean SFR is estimated to be \approx240\pm21 M_{\odot} yr^{-1} for the full sample, although this figure should be treated as an upper limit if AGN-heated dust makes a contribution to the FIR emission. Despite tentative claims in the literature, we do not find a dependence of {\sc C\,iv} equivalent width on FIR emission, suggesting that the strength of any outflow in these objects is not linked to their FIR output. These results strongly suggest that BAL QSOs (more specifically HiBALs) can be accommodated within a simple AGN unified scheme in which our line-of-sight to the nucleus intersects outflowing material. Models in which HiBALs are caught towards the end of a period of enhanced spheroid and black-hole growth, during which a wind terminates the star-formation activity, are not supported by the observed FIR properties.


Dense Molecular Gas: A Sensitive Probe of Stellar Feedback Models

Philip F. Hopkins (1), Desika Narayanan (2), Norman Murray (3), Eliot Quataert (1) ((1) Berkeley, (2) Steward, (3) CITA)

We show that the mass fraction of GMC gas (n>100 cm^-3) in dense (n>>10^4 cm^-3) star-forming clumps, observable in dense molecular tracers (L_HCN/L_CO(1-0)), is a sensitive probe of the strength and mechanism(s) of stellar feedback. Using high-resolution galaxy-scale simulations with pc-scale resolution and explicit models for feedback from radiation pressure, photoionization heating, stellar winds, and supernovae (SNe), we make predictions for the dense molecular gas tracers as a function of GMC and galaxy properties and the efficiency of stellar feedback. In models with weak/no feedback, much of the mass in GMCs collapses into dense sub-units, predicting L_HCN/L_CO(1-0) ratios order-of-magnitude larger than observed. By contrast, models with feedback properties taken directly from stellar evolution calculations predict dense gas tracers in good agreement with observations. Changing the strength or timing of SNe tends to move systems along, rather than off, the L_HCN-L_CO relation (because SNe heat lower-density material, not the high-density gas). Changing the strength of radiation pressure (which acts efficiently in the highest density gas), however, has a much stronger effect on L_HCN than on L_CO. We predict that the fraction of dense gas (L_HCN/L_CO(1-0)) increases with increasing GMC surface density; this drives a trend in L_HCN/L_CO(1-0) with SFR and luminosity which has tentatively been observed. Our results make specific predictions for enhancements in the dense gas tracers in unusually dense environments such as ULIRGs and galactic nuclei (including the galactic center).

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