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The maximum stellar surface density due to the failure of stellar feedback

Grudić, Michael Y. and Hopkins, Philip F. and Quataert, Eliot and Murray, Norman (2019) The maximum stellar surface density due to the failure of stellar feedback. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 483 (4). pp. 5548-5553. ISSN 0035-8711. doi:10.1093/mnras/sty3386.

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A maximum stellar surface density Σ_(max) ∼ 3×10^5M⊙ pc^(−2) is observed across all classes of dense stellar systems (e.g. star clusters, galactic nuclei, etc.), spanning ∼8 orders of magnitude in mass. It has been proposed that this characteristic scale is set by some dynamical feedback mechanism preventing collapse beyond a certain surface density. However, simple analytic models and detailed simulations of star formation moderated by feedback from massive stars argue that feedback becomes less efficient at higher surface densities (with the star formation efficiency increasing as ∼Σ/Σ_(crit)). We therefore propose an alternative model wherein stellar feedback becomes ineffective at moderating star formation above some Σ_(crit), so the supply of star-forming gas is rapidly converted to stars before the system can contract to higher surface density. We show that such a model – with Σ_(crit) taken directly from the theory – naturally predicts the observed Σ_(max). We find Σ_(max) ∼ 100Σ_(crit) because the gas consumption time is longer than the global free-fall time even when feedback is ineffective. Moreover, the predicted Σ_(max) is robust to spatial scale and metallicity, and is preserved even if multiple episodes of star formation/gas inflow occur. In this context, the observed Σ_(max) directly tells us where feedback fails.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Hopkins, Philip F.0000-0003-3729-1684
Quataert, Eliot0000-0001-9185-5044
Additional Information:© 2018 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model ( Accepted 2018 December 5. Received 2018 November 15; in original form 2018 April 4. Published: 22 December 2018. We thank Arjen van der Wel for providing the galaxy size and mass data from van der Wel et al. (2014). Support for MG and PFH was provided by an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, NASA ATP Grant NNX14AH35G, and NSF Collaborative Research grant number 1411920 and CAREER grant number 1455342. Numerical calculations were run on the Caltech compute clusters ‘Zwicky’ (NSF MRI award number PHY-0960291) and ‘Wheeler’.
Group:TAPIR, Astronomy Department
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Alfred P. Sloan FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:galaxies: active – galaxies: evolution – galaxies: formation – galaxies: star clusters: general – galaxies: star formation – cosmology: theory
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190115-143918003
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Official Citation:Michael Y Grudić, Philip F Hopkins, Eliot Quataert, Norman Murray; The maximum stellar surface density due to the failure of stellar feedback, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 483, Issue 4, 11 March 2019, Pages 5548–5553,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:92294
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:16 Jan 2019 15:04
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 03:48

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