Testing star formation laws on spatially resolved regions in a z ≈ 4.3 starburst galaxy

P. Sharda*, E. da Cunha, C. Federrath, E. Wisnioski, E. M. Di Teodoro, K. Tadaki, M. S. Yun, I. Aretxaga, R. Kawabe

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)


    We probe the star formation properties of the gas in AzTEC-1 in the COSMOS field, one of the best resolved and brightest starburst galaxies at z ≈ 4.3, forming stars at a rate > 1000 M yr−1. Using recent ALMA observations, we study star formation in the galaxy nucleus and an off-centre star-forming clump and measure a median star formation rate (SFR) surface density of ΣnucleusSFR = 270 ± 54 and ΣsfclumpSFR = 170 ± 38 M yr−1 kpc−2, respectively. Following the analysis by Sharda et al. (2018), we estimate the molecular gas mass, freefall time, and turbulent Mach number in these regions to predict ΣSFR from three star formation relations in the literature. The Kennicutt–Schmidt (Kennicutt 1998; KS) relation, which is based on the gas surface density, underestimates the ΣSFR in these regions by a factor 2–3. The ΣSFR we calculate from the single-freefall model of Krumholz et al. (2012; KDM) is consistent with the measured ΣSFR in the nucleus and the star-forming clump within the uncertainties. The turbulence-regulated star formation relation by Salim et al. (2015; SFK) agrees slightly better with the observations than the KDM relation. Our analysis reveals that an interplay between turbulence and gravity can help sustain high SFRs in high-redshift starbursts. It can also be extended to other high- and low-redshift galaxies thanks to the high-angular resolution and sensitivity of ALMA observations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4305-4312
    Number of pages8
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2019


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