Volume 534, October 2011
|Number of page(s)||13|
|Published online||20 October 2011|
From large scale gas compression to cluster formation in the Antennae overlap region⋆
Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, UMR 8617 CNRS, Université Paris-Sud 11, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France
Received: 23 May 2011
Accepted: 1 September 2011
We present a detailed observational analysis of how merger-driven turbulence may regulate the star-formation efficiency during galaxy interactions and set the initial conditions for the formation of super star clusters. Using VLT/SINFONI, we obtained near-infrared imaging spectroscopy of a small region in the Antennae overlap region, coincident with the supergiant molecular cloud 2 (SGMC 2). We find extended H2 line emission across much of the 600 pc field-of-view, traced at sub-arcsecond spatial resolution. The data also reveal a compact H2 source with broad lines and a dynamical mass Mdyn ~ 107 M⊙, which has no observable Brγ or K-band continuum emission, and no obvious counterpart in the 6 cm radio continuum. Line ratios indicate that the H2 emission of both sources is powered by shocks, making these lines a quantitative tracer of the dissipation of turbulent kinetic energy. The turbulence appears to be driven by the large-scale gas dynamics, and not by feedback from star formation. We propose a scenario where the H2 emission is related to the formation of bound clouds through accretion. The kinetic energy of the accreted gas drives the turbulence and powers the H2 emission. Broad H2 line widths of-order 150 km s-1, similar to the velocity gradient of the gas across the field of view, support this idea. Within this interpretation, the compact H2 source could be a massive cloud on its way to form a super star cluster within the next few Myr. This scenario can be further tested with ALMA observations.
Key words: galaxies: ISM / galaxies: interactions / galaxies: starburst / galaxies: star formation
© ESO, 2011
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