On the impact of empirical and theoretical star formation laws on galaxy formation

Claudia Lagos Urbina, C.G. Lacey, C.M. Baugh, R.G. Bower, A.J. Benson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    117 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    We investigate the consequences of applying different star formation laws in the galaxy formation model galform. Three broad star formation laws are implemented: the empirical relations of Kennicutt and Schmidt and Blitz & Rosolowsky and the theoretical model of Krumholz, McKee & Tumlinson. These laws have no free parameters once calibrated against observations of the star formation rate (SFR) and gas surface density in nearby galaxies. We start from published models, and investigate which observables are sensitive to a change in the star formation law, without altering any other model parameters. We show that changing the star formation law (i) does not significantly affect either the star formation history of the universe or the galaxy luminosity functions in the optical and near-infrared, due to an effective balance between the quiescent and burst star formation modes, (ii) greatly affects the cold gas contents of galaxies and (iii) changes the location of galaxies in the SFR versus stellar mass plane, so that a second sequence of 'passive' galaxies arises, in addition to the known 'active' sequence. We show that this plane can be used to discriminate between the star formation laws. © 2011 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2011 RAS.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1566-1584
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Volume416
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Fingerprint

    galactic evolution
    star formation
    galaxies
    star formation rate
    gas
    near infrared
    cold gas
    stellar mass
    history
    bursts
    universe
    luminosity
    histories
    parameter
    rate
    gases

    Cite this

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    abstract = "We investigate the consequences of applying different star formation laws in the galaxy formation model galform. Three broad star formation laws are implemented: the empirical relations of Kennicutt and Schmidt and Blitz & Rosolowsky and the theoretical model of Krumholz, McKee & Tumlinson. These laws have no free parameters once calibrated against observations of the star formation rate (SFR) and gas surface density in nearby galaxies. We start from published models, and investigate which observables are sensitive to a change in the star formation law, without altering any other model parameters. We show that changing the star formation law (i) does not significantly affect either the star formation history of the universe or the galaxy luminosity functions in the optical and near-infrared, due to an effective balance between the quiescent and burst star formation modes, (ii) greatly affects the cold gas contents of galaxies and (iii) changes the location of galaxies in the SFR versus stellar mass plane, so that a second sequence of 'passive' galaxies arises, in addition to the known 'active' sequence. We show that this plane can be used to discriminate between the star formation laws. {\circledC} 2011 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society {\circledC} 2011 RAS.",
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    On the impact of empirical and theoretical star formation laws on galaxy formation. / Lagos Urbina, Claudia; Lacey, C.G.; Baugh, C.M.; Bower, R.G.; Benson, A.J.

    In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 416, 2011, p. 1566-1584.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    AB - We investigate the consequences of applying different star formation laws in the galaxy formation model galform. Three broad star formation laws are implemented: the empirical relations of Kennicutt and Schmidt and Blitz & Rosolowsky and the theoretical model of Krumholz, McKee & Tumlinson. These laws have no free parameters once calibrated against observations of the star formation rate (SFR) and gas surface density in nearby galaxies. We start from published models, and investigate which observables are sensitive to a change in the star formation law, without altering any other model parameters. We show that changing the star formation law (i) does not significantly affect either the star formation history of the universe or the galaxy luminosity functions in the optical and near-infrared, due to an effective balance between the quiescent and burst star formation modes, (ii) greatly affects the cold gas contents of galaxies and (iii) changes the location of galaxies in the SFR versus stellar mass plane, so that a second sequence of 'passive' galaxies arises, in addition to the known 'active' sequence. We show that this plane can be used to discriminate between the star formation laws. © 2011 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2011 RAS.

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