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Dynamical Equilibrium in the Molecular ISM in 28 Nearby Star-forming Galaxies

Abstract : We compare the observed turbulent pressure in molecular gas, Pturb, to the required pressure for the interstellar gas to stay in equilibrium in the gravitational potential of a galaxy, PDE. To do this, we combine arcsecond resolution CO data from PHANGS-ALMA with multiwavelength data that trace the atomic gas, stellar structure, and star formation rate (SFR) for 28 nearby star-forming galaxies. We find that Pturb correlates with - but almost always exceeds - the estimated PDE on kiloparsec scales. This indicates that the molecular gas is overpressurized relative to the large-scale environment. We show that this overpressurization can be explained by the clumpy nature of molecular gas; a revised estimate of PDE on cloud scales, which accounts for molecular gas self-gravity, external gravity, and ambient pressure, agrees well with the observed Pturb in galaxy disks. We also find that molecular gas with cloud-scale Pturb ≈ PDE ≳ 105 kB K cm-3 in our sample is more likely to be self-gravitating, whereas gas at lower pressure it appears more influenced by ambient pressure and/or external gravity. Furthermore, we show that the ratio between Pturb and the observed SFR surface density, ΣSFR, is compatible with stellar feedback-driven momentum injection in most cases, while a subset of the regions may show evidence of turbulence driven by additional sources. The correlation between ΣSFR and kpc-scale PDE in galaxy disks is consistent with the expectation from self-regulated star formation models. Finally, we confirm the empirical correlation between molecular-to-atomic gas ratio and kpc-scale PDE reported in previous works.
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Submitted on : Thursday, May 19, 2022 - 8:10:38 PM
Last modification on : Monday, July 4, 2022 - 10:26:59 AM

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Jiayi Sun, Adam K. Leroy, Eve C. Ostriker, Annie Hughes, Erik Rosolowsky, et al.. Dynamical Equilibrium in the Molecular ISM in 28 Nearby Star-forming Galaxies. The Astrophysical Journal, 2020, 892, ⟨10.3847/1538-4357/ab781c⟩. ⟨insu-03673157⟩

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