Star formation in Galactic flows

Romas Smilgys, Ian A. Bonnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


We investigate the triggering of star formation in clouds that form in Galactic scale flows as the interstellar medium passes through spiral shocks. We use the Lagrangian nature of smoothed particle hydrodynamics simulations to trace how the star-forming gas is gathered into self-gravitating cores that collapse to form stars. Large-scale flows that arise due to Galactic dynamics create shocks of the order of 30 km s−1 that compress the gas and form dense clouds (n > several × 102 cm−3) in which self-gravity becomes relevant. These large-scale flows are necessary for creating the dense physical conditions for gravitational collapse and star formation. Local gravitational collapse requires densities in excess of n > 103 cm−3 which occur on size scales of ≈1 pc for low-mass star-forming regions (M < 100 M), and up to sizes approaching 10 pc for higher mass regions (M > 103 M). Star formation in the 250 pc region lasts throughout the 5 Myr time-scale of the simulation with a star formation rate of ≈10−1 M yr−1 kpc−2. In the absence of feedback, the efficiency of the star formation per free-fall time varies from our assumed 100 per cent at our sink accretion radius to values of <10−3 at low densities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1985-1992
Number of pages8
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Early online date6 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2016


  • Stars: formation
  • Stars: luminosity function, mass function
  • Galaxies: star formation


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