Characteristic scale of star formation – I. Clump formation efficiency on local scales

D. J. Eden*, T. J.T. Moore, R. Plume, A. J. Rigby, J. S. Urquhart, K. A. Marsh, C. H. Peñaloza, P. C. Clark, M. W.L. Smith, K. Tahani, S. E. Ragan, M. A. Thompson, D. Johnstone, H. Parsons, R. Rani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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We have used the ratio of column densities derived independently from the 850-μm continuum James Clerk Maxwell Telescope Plane Survey and the 13CO/C18O (J = 3 → 2) Heterodyne Inner Milky Way Plane Survey to produce maps of the dense-gas mass fraction (DGMF) in two slices of the Galactic plane centred at l= 30 and 40. The observed DGMF is a metric for the instantaneous clump formation efficiency (CFE) in the molecular gas. We split the two fields into velocity components corresponding to the spiral arms that cross them, and a two-dimensional power-spectrum analysis of the spiral-arm DGMF maps reveals a break in slope at the approximate size scale of molecular clouds. We interpret this as the characteristic scale of the amplitude of variations in the CFE and a constraint on the dominant mechanism regulating the CFE and, hence, the star formation efficiency in CO-traced clouds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-210
Number of pages20
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Early online date16 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • ISM: individual objects: W43
  • ISM: kinematics and dynamics
  • Stars: formation
  • Submillimetre: ISM


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