The orientations of molecular clouds in the outer Galaxy: evidence for the scale of the turbulence driver?
Supernova (SN) explosions inject a considerable amount of energy into the interstellar medium (ISM) in regions with high-to-moderate star formation rates. In order to assess whether the driving of turbulence by supernovae is also important in the outer Galactic disc, where the star formation rates are lower, we study the spatial distribution of molecular cloud (MC) inclinations with respect to the Galactic plane. The latter contains important information on the nature of the mechanism of energy injection into the ISM. We analyse the spatial correlations between the position angles (PAs) of a selected sample of MCs (the largest clouds in the catalogue of the outer Galaxy published by Heyer et al). Our results show that when the PAs of the clouds are all mapped to values into the [0°, 90°] interval, there is a significant degree of spatial correlation between the PAs on spatial scales in the range of 100-800 pc. These scales are of the order of the sizes of individual SN shells in low-density environments such as those prevailing in the outer Galaxy and where the metallicity of the ambient gas is of the order of the solar value or smaller. These findings suggest that individual SN explosions, occurring in the outer regions of the Galaxy and in likewise spiral galaxies, albeit at lower rates, continue to play an important role in shaping the structure and dynamics of the ISM in those regions. The SN explosions we postulate here are likely associated with the existence of young stellar clusters in the far outer regions of the Galaxy and the ultraviolet emission and low levels of star formation observed with the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) satellite in the outer regions of local galaxies.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Pub Date:
- September 2009
- ISM: bubbles;
- ISM: kinematics and dynamics;
- Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics;
- Galaxy: structure;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- Accepted to MNRAS main journal. Additional discussion and and one figure with error estimates is added. 7 pages, 7 figures. Main conclusions unchanged