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Dr Eric Keto (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, USA)

M82, Starbursts, Star Clusters, and the formation of Globular Clusters - Dr Eric Keto Colloquium

The Australia Telescope National Facility Colloquium
15:30-16:30 Wed 12 Apr 2006

ATNF Marsfield Lecture Theatre


We observed the nearby starburst galaxy M82 in CO in the
higher frequency (2--1) transition to achieve an angular resolution below 1 arc second or 17 pc at the target.We resolved the molecular gas into a large number of compact clouds, with masses ranging from about 2x10^3 to 2x10^6 solar masses. The mass spectrum scales as N(M) ~ M^-1.5, similar to the mass spectra of young massive star clusters suggesting that individual molecular clouds are transformed in the starburst into individual star clusters. The larger clouds are
surrounded by supernovae and HII regions suggesting that star formation proceeds from the outside of the clouds and progresses inward consistent with triggering by a sudden increase in external pressure. The clouds with internal star formation have velocity gradients and inverse P-Cygni spectral line profiles indicating inward motions of 35 kms consistent with shock driven compression. Diffuse free-free radio emission and X-ray emission around the clouds provides evidence for superheated ionized gas sufficient to drive the compression. Clouds with spectral lines indicating expansion show
little internal star formation suggesting that the dynamics precedes and is responsible for the star formation rather than the inverse. M82 is known to be in interaction with neighboring M81. The overall picture is consistent with the formation of massive star clusters from individual giant molecular clouds crushed by a sudden galactic scale increase in external pressure generated by the changing dynamics that result from a near-collision with a neighboring galaxy. Present day globular clusters may have formed in a similar fashion in primordial

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