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Journal Article

The gas–star formation cycle in nearby star-forming galaxies. I. Assessment of multiscale variations


Schruba,  Andreas
Infrared and Submillimeter Astronomy, MPI for Extraterrestrial Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Schinnerer, E., Hughes, A., Leroy, A., Groves, B., Blanc, G. A., Kreckel, K., et al. (2019). The gas–star formation cycle in nearby star-forming galaxies. I. Assessment of multiscale variations. The Astrophysical Journal, 887(1): 49. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ab50c2.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-DB96-B
The processes regulating star formation in galaxies are thought to act across a hierarchy of spatial scales. To connect extragalactic star formation relations from global and kiloparsec-scale measurements to recent cloud-scale resolution studies, we have developed a simple, robust method that quantifies the scale dependence of the relative spatial distributions of molecular gas and recent star formation. In this paper, we apply this method to eight galaxies with ~1'' resolution molecular gas imaging from the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS–ALMA (PHANGS–ALMA) survey and PdBI Arcsecond Whirlpool Survey (PAWS) that have matched resolution, high-quality narrowband Hα imaging. At a common scale of 140 pc, our massive (log(M [M ]) = 9.3–10.7), normally star-forming (SFR[M yr−1] = 0.3–5.9) galaxies exhibit a significant reservoir of quiescent molecular gas not associated with star formation as traced by Hα emission. Galactic structures act as backbones for both molecular gas and H ii region distributions. As we degrade the spatial resolution, the quiescent molecular gas disappears, with the most rapid changes occurring for resolutions up to ~0.5 kpc. As the resolution becomes poorer, the morphological features become indistinct for spatial scales larger than ~1 kpc. The method is a promising tool to search for relationships between the quiescent or star-forming molecular reservoir and galaxy properties, but requires a larger sample size to identify robust correlations between the star-forming molecular gas fraction and global galaxy parameters.