The Size-Linewidth Relation and Signatures of Feedback from Quiescent to Active Star Forming Regions in the LMC

Alex Green, Tony Wong, Rémy Indebetouw, Omnarayani Nayak, Alberto Bolatto, Elizabeth Tarantino, Mónica Rubio, Suzanne C. Madden, Alec S. Hirschauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To investigate the effects of stellar feedback on the gravitational state of giant molecular clouds (GMCs), we study 12CO and 13CO Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array maps of nine GMCs distributed throughout the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), the nearest star-forming galaxy to our own. We perform noise and resolution matching on the sample, working at a common resolution of 3.″5 (0.85 pc at the LMC distance of 50 kpc), and we use the Spectral Clustering for Molecular Emission Segmentation clustering algorithm to identify discrete substructure, or “clumps.” We supplement these data with three tracers of recent star formation: 8 μm surface brightness, continuum-subtracted Hα flux, and interstellar radiation field energy density inferred from dust emission. The 12CO clumps identified cover a range of 3.6 dex in luminosity-based mass and 2.4 dex in average 8 μm surface brightness, representative of the wide range of conditions of the interstellar medium in the LMC. Our observations suggest evidence for increased turbulence in these clouds. While the turbulent linewidths are correlated with clump surface density, in agreement with previous observations, we find even better correlation with the three star formation activity tracers considered, suggesting stellar energy injection plays a significant role in the dynamical state of the clumps. The excess linewidths we measure do not appear to result from opacity broadening. 12CO clumps are found to be typically less gravitationally bound than 13CO clumps, with some evidence of the kinetic-to-gravitational potential energy ratio increasing with star formation tracers. Further multiline analysis may better constrain the assumptions made in these calculations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number51
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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