Cosmological Evolution of Supergiant Star‐forming Clouds Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • In an exploration of the birthplaces of globular clusters, we present a careful examination of the formation of self-gravitating gas clouds within assembling dark matter haloes in a hierarchical cosmological model. Our high-resolution smoothed particle hydrodynamical simulations are designed to determine whether or not hypothesized supergiant molecular clouds (SGMCs) form and, if they do, to determine their physical properties and mass spectra. It was suggested in earlier work that clouds with a median mass of several 10^8 M_sun are expected to assemble during the formation of a galaxy, and that globular clusters form within these SGMCs. Our simulations show that clouds with the predicted properties are indeed produced as smaller clouds collide and agglomerate within the merging dark matter haloes of our cosmological model. We find that the mass spectrum of these clouds obeys the same power-law form observed for globular clusters, molecular clouds, and their internal clumps in galaxies, and predicted for the supergiant clouds in which globular clusters may form. We follow the evolution and physical properties of gas clouds within small dark matter haloes up to z = 1, after which prolific star formation is expected to occur. Finally, we discuss how our results may lead to more physically motivated "rules" for star formation in cosmological simulations of galaxy formation.

publication date

  • July 20, 2001