Eve C. Ostriker, Rahul Shetty
2011 Astrophysical Journal  
Star formation rates in the centers of disk galaxies often vastly exceed those at larger radii. We investigate the idea that these central starbursts are self-regulated, with the momentum flux injected to the ISM by star formation balancing the gravitational force confining the gas. For most starbursts, supernovae are the largest contributor to the momentum flux, and turbulence provides the main pressure support for the predominantly-molecular ISM. If the momentum feedback per stellar mass
more » ... r stellar mass formed is p_*/m_* ~ 3000 km/s, the predicted star formation rate is Sigma_SFR=2 pi G Sigma^2 m_*/p_* ~0.1(Sigma/100Msun/pc^2)^2 Msun/kpc^2/yr in regions where gas dominates the vertical gravity. We compare this prediction with numerical simulations of vertically-resolved disks that model star formation including feedback, finding good agreement for gas surface densities Sigma ~ 10^2-10^3 Msun/pc^2. We also compare to a compilation of star formation rates and gas contents from local and high-redshift galaxies (both mergers and normal galaxies), finding good agreement provided that X_CO decreases weakly as Sigma and Sigma_SFR increase. Star formation rates in dense, turbulent gas are also expected to depend on the gravitational free-fall time; if the efficiency per free-fall time is epsilon_ff ~ 0.01, the turbulent velocity dispersion driven by feedback is expected to be v_z = 0.4 epsilon_ff p_*/m_* ~ 10 km/s, relatively independent of Sigma or Sigma_SFR. Turbulence-regulated starbursts (controlled by kinetic momentum feedback) are part of the larger scheme of self-regulation; primarily-atomic low-Sigma outer disks may have star formation regulated by UV heating feedback, whereas regions at extremely high Sigma may be regulated by feedback of radiation that is reprocessed into trapped IR.
doi:10.1088/0004-637x/731/1/41 fatcat:g3twe62bsfcejm55gdq5xr7kkm