Crucial to a quantitative understanding of galaxy evolution are the properties of the interstellar medium that regulate galactic-scale star formation activity. We present here the results of a suite of star formation models applied to the nearby blue compact dwarf galaxies NGC 2915 and NGC 1705. Each of these galaxies has a stellar disk embedded in a much larger, essentially starless H I disk. These atypical stellar morphologies allow for rigorous tests of star formation models that examine the effects on star formation of the H I, stellar, and dark matter mass components, as well as the kinematics of the gaseous and stellar disks. We use far-ultraviolet and 24 μm images from the Galaxy Evolution Explorer and the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxies Survey, respectively, to map the spatial distribution of the total star formation rate surface density within each galaxy. New high-resolution H I line observations obtained with the Australia Telescope Compact Array are used to study the distribution and dynamics of each galaxy's neutral interstellar medium. The standard Toomre Q parameter is unable to distinguish between active and non-active star-forming regions, predicting the H I disks of the dwarfs to be sub-critical. Two-fluid instability models incorporating the stellar and dark matter components of each galaxy, in addition to the gaseous component, yield unstable portions of the inner disk. Finally, a formalization in which the H I kinematics are characterized by the rotational shear of the gas produces models that very accurately match the observations. This suggests the time available for perturbations to collapse in the presence of rotational shear to be an important factor governing galactic-scale star formation.
The Astronomical Journal
- Pub Date:
- January 2012
- galaxies: ISM;
- galaxies: star formation;
- Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics
- 27 pages, 20 figures, accepted for publication in AJ