Volume 587, March 2016
|Number of page(s)||38|
|Published online||26 February 2016|
Effects of environmental gas compression on the multiphase ISM and star formation
The Virgo spiral galaxies NGC 4501 and NGC 4567/68
CDS, Observatoire astronomique de Strasbourg, Université de Strasbourg,
CNRS, UMR 7550, 11 rue de l’Université,
2 Univ. Bordeaux, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux, UMR 5804, 33270 Floirac, France
Received: 21 July 2015
Accepted: 26 December 2015
The cluster environment can affect galaxy evolution in different ways: via ram pressure stripping or by gravitational perturbations caused by galactic encounters. Both kinds of interactions can lead to the compression of the interstellar medium (ISM) and its associated magnetic fields, causing an increase in the gas surface density and the appearance of asymmetric ridges of polarized radio continuum emission. New IRAM 30m HERA CO(2−1) data of NGC 4501, a Virgo spiral galaxy currently experiencing ram pressure stripping, and NGC 4567/68, an interacting pair of galaxies in the Virgo cluster, are presented. We find an increase in the molecular fraction where the ISM is compressed. The gas is close to self-gravitation in compressed regions. This leads to an increase in gas pressure and a decrease in the ratio between the molecular fraction and total ISM pressure. The overall Kennicutt Schmidt relation based on a pixel-by-pixel analysis at ~1.5 kpc resolution is not significantly modified by compression. However, we detected continuous regions of low molecular star formation efficiencies in the compressed parts of the galactic gas disks. The data suggest that a relation between the molecular star formation efficiency SFEH2 = SFR/M(H2) and gas self-gravitation (Rmol/Ptot and Toomre Q parameter) exists. Both systems show spatial variations in the star formation efficiency with respect to the molecular gas that can be related to environmental compression of the ISM. An analytical model was used to investigate the dependence of SFEH2 on self-gravitation. The model correctly reproduces the correlations between Rmol/Ptot, SFEH2, and Q if different global turbulent velocity dispersions are assumed for the three galaxies. We found that variations in the NH2/ICO conversion factor can mask most of the correlation between SFEH2 and the Toomre Q parameter. Dynamical simulations were used to compare the effects of ram pressure and tidal ISM compression. These models give direct access to the volume density. We conclude that a gravitationally induced ISM compression has the same consequences as ram pressure compression: (i) an increasing gas surface density; (ii) an increasing molecular fraction; and (iii) a decreasing Rmol/Ptot in the compressed region due to the presence of nearly self-gravitating gas. The response of SFEH2 to compression is more complex. While in the violent ISM-ISM collisions (e.g., Taffy galaxies and NGC 4438) the interaction makes star formation drop by an order of magnitude, we only detect an SFEH2 variation of ~50% in the compressed regions of the three galaxies. We suggest that the decrease in star formation depends on the ratio between the compression timescale and the turbulent dissipation timescale. In NGC 4501 and NGC 4567/68 the compression timescale is comparable to the turbulent dissipation timescale and only leads to minor changes in the molecular star formation efficiency.
Key words: galaxies: evolution / galaxies: interactions / galaxies: clusters: individual: NGC 4501 / galaxies: star formation / galaxies: clusters: individual: NGC 4567/68
© ESO, 2016
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