Journal Article

A Toomre-like stability criterion for the clumpy and turbulent interstellar medium

Alessandro B. Romeo, Andreas Burkert and Oscar Agertz

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 407, issue 2, pages 1223-1230
Published in print September 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online September 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.16975.x
A Toomre-like stability criterion for the clumpy and turbulent interstellar medium

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We explore the gravitational instability of clumpy and turbulent gas discs, taking into account the Larson-type scaling laws observed in giant molecular clouds (GMCs) and H i, as well as more general scaling relations. This degree of freedom is of special interest in view of the coming high-z interstellar medium surveys and is thus potentially important for understanding the dynamical effects of turbulence at all epochs of galaxy evolution. Our analysis shows that turbulence has a deep impact on the gravitational instability of the disc. It excites a rich variety of stability regimes, several of which have no classical counterpart. Among other diagnostics, we provide two useful tools for observers and simulators: (1) the stability map of turbulence, which illustrates our stability scenario and relates it to the phenomenology of interstellar turbulence: GMC/H i observations, simulations and models; (2) a Toomre-like stability criterion, , which applies to a large class of clumpy/turbulent discs. We make specific predictions about GMC and cold-H i turbulence and point out the implications of our analysis for high-z galaxy surveys.

Keywords: instabilities; turbulence; ISM: general; ISM: kinematics and dynamics; ISM: structure; galaxies: ISM

Journal Article.  5650 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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