On the observed diversity of star formation efficiencies in Giant Molecular Clouds
Journal article, 2019

Observations find a median star formation efficiency per free-fall time in Milky Way Giant Molecular Clouds (GMCs) of the order of eff ~ 1 per cent with dispersions of ~0.5dex. The origin of this scatter in eff is still debated and difficult to reproduce with analytical models.We track the formation, evolution and destruction of GMCs in a hydrodynamical simulation of a Milky Way-like galaxy and by deriving cloud properties in an observationally motivated way, we measure the distribution of star formation efficiencies which are in excellent agreement with observations. We find no significant link between eff and any measured global property of GMCs (e.g. gas mass, velocity dispersion). Instead, a wide range of efficiencies exist in the entire parameter space. From the cloud evolutionary tracks, we find that each cloud follows a unique evolutionary path which gives rise to a wide diversity in all properties.We argue that it is this diversity in cloud properties, above everything else, that results in the dispersion of eff.

Galaxies: evolution

Galaxies: star formation

ISM: clouds

Galaxies: ISM



Kearn Grisdale

University of Oxford

O. Agertz

Lund University

Florent Renaud

Lund University

Alessandro Romeo

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Astronomy and Plasmaphysics, Extragalactic Astrophysics

Julien Devriendt

University of Oxford

Adrianne Slyz

University of Oxford

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

0035-8711 (ISSN) 1365-2966 (eISSN)

Vol. 486 4 5482-5491

Subject Categories

Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology


Basic sciences



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