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Date and Time of the Query: 2019-06-19 T23:28:56 PDT
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For refcode 2008AJ....136.2872T:
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Copyright by American Astronomical Society. Reproduced by permission
2008AJ....136.2872T Geometrically Derived Timescales for Star Formation in Spiral Galaxies D. Tamburro, H.-W. Rix, F. Walter, E. Brinks, W. J. G. de Blok, R. C. Kennicutt, and M.-M. Mac Low ABSTRACT We estimate a characteristic timescale for star formation in the spiral arms of disk galaxies, going from atomic hydrogen (H I) to dust-enshrouded massive stars. Drawing on high-resolution H I data from The H I Nearby Galaxy Survey and 24 micron images from the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxies Survey, we measure the average angular offset between the H I and 24 micron emissivity peaks as a function of radius, for a sample of 14 nearby disk galaxies. We model these offsets assuming an instantaneous kinematic pattern speed, {OMEGA}p, and a timescale, t_H I -> 24 microns, for the characteristic time span between the dense H I phase and the formation of massive stars that heat the surrounding dust. Fitting for {OMEGA}p and t_H I -> 24 microns, we find that the radial dependence of the observed angular offset (of the H I and 24 microns emission) is consistent with this simple prescription; the resulting corotation radii of the spiral patterns are typically R_cor_ ~= 2.7R_s_, consistent with independent estimates. The resulting values of t_H I -> 24 microns for the sample are in the range 1-4 Myr. We have explored the possible impact of non-circular gas motions on the estimate of t_H I -> 24 microns and have found it to be substantially less than a factor of 2. This implies a short timescale for the most intense phase of the ensuing star formation in spiral arms, and implies that a considerable fraction of molecular clouds exist only for a few Myr before forming stars. However, our analysis does not preclude that some molecular clouds persist considerably longer. If much of the star formation in spiral arms occurs within this short interval t_H I -> 24 microns_, then star formation must be inefficient, in order to avoid the short-term depletion of the gas reservoir. Key words: galaxies: evolution, galaxies: ISM, galaxies: kinematics and dynamics, galaxies: spiral, stars: formation
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