Extended Schmidt law holds for faint dwarf irregular galaxies
1 Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, Alan Turing Building, School of Physics & Astronomy, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
2 NCRA-TIFR, Post Bag 3, Ganeshkhind, 411 007 Pune, India
3 School of Astronomy and Space Science, Nanjing University, 210093 Nanjing, PR China
4 Key Laboratory of Modern Astronomy and Astrophysics (Nanjing University), Ministry of Education, 210093 Nanjing, PR China
Received: 2 May 2017
Accepted: 7 August 2017
Context. The extended Schmidt law (ESL) is a variant of the Schmidt which relates the surface densities of gas and star formation, with the surface density of stellar mass added as an extra parameter. Although ESL has been shown to be valid for a wide range of galaxy properties, its validity in low-metallicity galaxies has not been comprehensively tested. This is important because metallicity affects the crucial atomic-to-molecular transition step in the process of conversion of gas to stars.
Aims. We empirically investigate for the first time whether low metallicity faint dwarf irregular galaxies (dIrrs) from the local universe follow the ESL. Here we consider the “global” law where surface densities are averaged over the galactic discs. dIrrs are unique not only because they are at the lowest end of mass and star formation scales for galaxies, but also because they are metal-poor compared to the general population of galaxies.
Methods. Our sample is drawn from the Faint Irregular Galaxy GMRT Survey (FIGGS) which is the largest survey of atomic hydrogen in such galaxies. The gas surface densities are determined using their atomic hydrogen content. The star formation rates are calculated using GALEX far ultraviolet fluxes after correcting for dust extinction, whereas the stellar surface densities are calculated using Spitzer 3.6 μm fluxes. The surface densities are calculated over the stellar discs defined by the 3.6 μm images.
Results. We find dIrrs indeed follow the ESL. The mean deviation of the FIGGS galaxies from the relation is 0.01 dex, with a scatter around the relation of less than half that seen in the original relation. In comparison, we also show that the FIGGS galaxies are much more deviant when compared to the “canonical” Kennicutt-Schmidt relation.
Conclusions. Our results help strengthen the universality of the ESL, especially for galaxies with low metallicities. We suggest that models of star formation in which feedback from previous generations of stars set the pressure in the interstellar medium and affect ongoing star formation, are promising candidates for explaining the ESL. We also confirm that ESL is an independent relation and not a form of a relation between star formation efficiency and metallicity.
Key words: galaxies: ISM / galaxies: star formation / galaxies: stellar content / galaxies: dwarf / radio lines: galaxies / ultraviolet: galaxies
© ESO, 2017