Monday, October 28, 2013 - 11:00am
Karin Sandstrom (MPIA):
"The Properties of Molecular Gas and Star Formation in Galaxy Centers"
Abstract. The efficiency at which interstellar gas is converted into stars is one of the major factors governing the evolution and observable properties of galaxies at all redshifts. In the Milky Way we can study the star formation process in great detail, but only over a limited range of environmental conditions. We must move to nearby galaxies to expand this range. I will present the results of recent work using resolved maps of interstellar gas and dust to trace the amount of molecular gas in nearby galaxies on ∼kiloparsec scales. One of the key results from this study is the decrease in the "CO-to-H2" conversion factor (Xco) in some galaxy centers. These galaxy centers also appear to have enhanced star-formation efficiency. I will outline some of the possible drivers for these changes in molecular gas and star formation properties and summarize the evidence we currently have for the various scenarios. Finally, I will discuss the future observational studies with ALMA that will provide key insights into what is happening on the scale of individual star-forming clouds in the centers of nearby galaxies.