Physical properties and scaling relations of molecular clouds: the effect of stellar feedback
Journal article, 2018

Using hydrodynamical simulations of entire galactic discs similar to the Milky Way (MW), reaching 4.6{ pc} resolution, we study the origins of observed physical properties of giant molecular clouds (GMCs). We find that efficient stellar feedback is a necessary ingredient in order to develop a realistic interstellar medium, leading to molecular cloud masses, sizes, velocity dispersions, and virial parameters in excellent agreement with MW observations. GMC scaling relations observed in the MW, such as the mass-size (M-R), velocity dispersion-size (σ-R), and the σ-RΣ relations, are reproduced in a feedback-driven ISM when observed in projection, with M∝R2.3 and σ∝R0.56. When analysed in 3D, GMC scaling relations steepen significantly, indicating potential limitations of our understanding of molecular cloud 3D structure from observations. Furthermore, we demonstrate how a GMC population's underlying distribution of virial parameters can strongly influence the scatter in derived scaling relations. Finally, we show that GMCs with nearly identical global properties exist in different evolutionary stages, where a majority of clouds being either gravitationally bound or expanding, but with a significant fraction being compressed by external ISM pressure, at all times.

galaxies:ISM

galaxies:evolution

galaxies:formation

galaxies:structure

Author

Kearn Grisdale

University of Oxford

University of Surrey

Oscar Agertz

Lund University

Florent Renaud

Lund University

University of Surrey

Alessandro Romeo

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

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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

Vol. 479 3 3167-3180

Subject Categories

Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology

Roots

Basic sciences

DOI

10.1093/mnras/sty1595

More information

Latest update

8/29/2018