Volume 573, January 2015
|Number of page(s)||18|
|Published online||16 December 2014|
Environmental effects on star formation in dwarf galaxies and star clusters⋆
1 University College LondonDepartment of Space & Climate Physics, Mullard Space Science Laboratory, Holmbury St. Mary, Dorking Surrey RH5 6NT UK
2 Department of Earth and Space Science, Graduate School of Science, Osaka University, Toyonaka, Osaka, Japan
3 Physics and Astronomy Department, Padua University, Padua, Italy
4 Astronomisches Rechen-Institut, Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
Received: 30 June 2014
Accepted: 9 September 2014
Context. The role of the environment in the formation of a stellar population is a difficult problem in astrophysics. The reason is that similar properties of a stellar population are found in star systems embedded in different environments or, vice versa, similar environments contain stellar systems with stellar populations having different properties.
Aims. In this paper, we develop a simple analytical criterion to investigate the role of the environment on the onset of star formation. We will consider the main external agents that influence star formation (i.e. ram pressure, tidal interaction, Rayleigh-Taylor and Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities) in a spherical galaxy moving through an external environment. The theoretical framework developed here has direct applications to the cases of dwarf galaxies in galaxy clusters and dwarf galaxies orbiting our Milky Way system, as well as any primordial gas-rich cluster of stars orbiting within its host galaxy.
Methods. We develop an analytic formalism to solve the fluid dynamics equations in a non-inertial reference frame mapped with spherical coordinates. The two-fluids instability at the interface between a stellar system and its surrounding hotter and less dense environment is related to the star formation processes through a set of differential equations. The solution presented here is quite general, allowing us to investigate most kinds of orbits allowed in a gravitationally bound system of stars in interaction with a major massive companion.
Results. We present an analytical criterion to elucidate the dependence of star formation in a spherical stellar system (as a dwarf galaxy or a globular cluster) on its surrounding environment useful in theoretical interpretations of numerical results as well as observational applications. We show how spherical coordinates naturally enlighten the interpretation of two-fluids instability in a geometry that directly applies to an astrophysical case. This criterion predicts the threshold value for the onset of star formation in a mass vs. size space for any orbit of interest. Moreover, we show for the first time the theoretical dependencies of the different instability phenomena acting on a system in a fully analytical way.
Key words: galaxies: star formation / galaxies: dwarf / galaxies: star clusters: general / Local Group
Appendices are available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2014
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