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Towards a multi-tracer timeline of star formation in the LMC -- I.\ Deriving the lifetimes of H\,{\sc i} clouds

Ward, JL, Chevance, M, Kruijssen, JMD, Hygate, APS, Schruba, A and Longmore, SN (2020) Towards a multi-tracer timeline of star formation in the LMC -- I.\ Deriving the lifetimes of H\,{\sc i} clouds. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 497 (2). pp. 2286-2301. ISSN 0035-8711

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The time-scales associated with the various stages of the star formation process remain poorly constrained. This includes the earliest phases of star formation, during which molecular clouds condense out of the atomic interstellar medium. We present the first in a series of papers with the ultimate goal of compiling the first multi-tracer timeline of star formation, through a comprehensive set of evolutionary phases from atomic gas clouds to unembedded young stellar populations. In this paper, we present an empirical determination of the lifetime of atomic clouds using the Uncertainty Principle for Star Formation formalism, based on the de-correlation of H$\alpha$ and H\,{\sc i} emission as a function of spatial scale. We find an atomic gas cloud lifetime of 48$\substack{+13\\-8}$\,Myr. This timescale is consistent with the predicted average atomic cloud lifetime in the LMC (based on galactic dynamics) that is dominated by the gravitational collapse of the mid-plane ISM. We also determine the overlap time-scale for which both H\,{\sc i} and H$\alpha$ emission are present to be very short ($t_{over}<1.7$\,Myr), consistent with zero, indicating that there is a near-to-complete phase change of the gas to a molecular form in an intermediary stage between H\,{\sc i} clouds and H\,{\sc ii} regions. We utilise the time-scales derived in this work to place empirically determined limits on the time-scale of molecular cloud formation. By performing the same analysis with and without the 30 Doradus region included, we find that the most extreme star forming environment in the LMC has little effect on the measured average atomic gas cloud lifetime. By measuring the lifetime of the atomic gas clouds, we place strong constraints on the physics that drives the formation of molecular clouds and establish a solid foundation for the development of a multi-tracer timeline of star formation in the LMC.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society ©: 2020 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2020 10:06
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2022 13:15
DOI or ID number: 10.1093/mnras/staa1977
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13327
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