What can simulated molecular clouds tell us about real molecular clouds?
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Oxford University Press
This is the final version of the article. Available from Oxford University Press via the DOI in this record.
© 2016 The Authors.We study the properties of giant molecular clouds (GMCs) from a smoothed particle hydrodynamics simulation of a portion of a spiral galaxy, modelled at high resolution, with robust representations of the physics of the interstellar medium. We examine the global molecular gas content of clouds, and investigate the effect of using CO or H2 densities to define the GMCs. We find that CO can reliably trace the high-density H2 gas, but misses less dense H2 clouds. We also investigate the effect of using 3D CO densities versus CO emission with an observer's perspective, and find that CO-emission clouds trace well the peaks of the actual GMCs in 3D, but can miss the lower density molecular gas between density peaks which is often CO-dark. Thus, the CO emission typically traces smaller clouds within larger GMC complexes. We also investigate the effect of the galactic environment (in particular the presence of spiral arms), on the distribution of GMC properties, and we find that the mean properties are similar between arm and inter-arm clouds, but the tails of some distributions are indicative of intrinsic differences in the environment. We find highly filamentary clouds (similar to the giant molecular filaments of our Galaxy) exclusively in the inter-arm region, formed by galactic shear. We also find that the most massive GMC complexes are located in the arm, and that as a consequence of more frequent cloud interactions/mergers in the arm, arm clouds are more sub-structured and have higher velocity dispersions than inter-arm clouds.
We thank the anonymous referee for useful comments that helped strengthen the paper. ADC and CLD acknowledge funding from the European Research Council for the FP7 ERC starting grant project LOCALSTAR. This work used the DiRAC Complexity system, operated by the University of Leicester IT Services, which forms part of the STFC DiRAC HPC Facility (www.dirac.ac.uk). This equipment is funded by BIS National E-Infrastructure capital grant ST/K000373/1 and STFC DiRAC Operations grant ST/K0003259/1. DiRAC is part of the National E-Infrastructure. This work also used the University of Exeter Supercomputer, a DiRAC Facility jointly funded by STFC, the Large Facilities Capital Fund of BIS, and the University of Exeter. Fig. 1 was produced using SPLASH (Price 2007). This work has used the CAMELOT project (Ginsburg et al. 2016; DOI: [in progress]; http://camelot-project.org/).
Vol. 458, Iss. 4, pp. 3667 - 3683