Feedback from OB stars on their parent cloud: Gas exhaustion rather than gas ejection

21 Jun 2019  ·  Watkins E. J., Peretto N., Marsh K., Fuller G. A. ·

Feedback from high-mass stars shapes the ISM of galaxies and thereby impacts gas that will form future generations of stars. However, due to our inability to track the time evolution of individual molecular clouds, quantifying the exact role of feedback on their star formation history is an observationally challenging task. In the present study, we take advantage of the unique properties of the G316.75-00.00 high-mass star-forming ridge to determine how feedback from O-stars impacts the dynamical stability of filaments. G316.75 is a 13.6pc long ridge containing 18,900Msun of H2 gas which is half IR dark, half IR bright. The IR bright half has already formed 4 O-type stars over the past 2Myr, while the IR dark half is still quiescent. Therefore, by assuming the gas properties of the dark part represents an earlier evolutionary stage of the bright part, we can quantify how feedback impacts these properties by contrasting them. We use archive Herschel and molecular line data, tracing both dense (NH3 and N2H+) and more diffuse (13CO) gas, to measure the ratio of kinetic to gravitational energy per-unit-length, virial-ratio-per-line, across the ridge for a range of gas volume densities. We show that despite the presence of 4 embedded O-stars, feedback cannot unbind the ridge's mass except for some small gas pockets near the O-stars. In fact, the virial-ratio-per-line is almost indistinguishable for both parts of the ridge. These results are at odds with most simulations where O-star-forming clouds are dispersed by feedback within a few cloud free-fall time. We conclude that the discrepancy between such simulations and our observations originates from different cloud morphologies and average densities when the first O-star forms. These results have important implications regarding, for instance, how feedback is implemented within cosmological and galactic-scale simulations.

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Astrophysics of Galaxies