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Paper: The life cycle of the Interstellar Medium in other galaxies
Volume: 73, Airborne Astronomy Symposium on the Galactic Ecosystem: From Gas to Stars to Dust
Page: 121
Authors: Knapp, G. R.
Abstract: Gas in spiral galaxies cycles between the diffuse and dense phases as clouds collapse, form stars and are dispersed back into the ISM. Far infrared observations of continuum emission from interstellar dust and line emission from interstellar gas have revealed a wealth of information on the state of the ISM in galaxies of different morphological types. The analysis of these observations gives us information about the processes of star formation and about the evolution of the ISM. Star formation rates vary widely from galaxy to galaxy, with the rates in starburst galaxies being 10 - 100 times those in quiescent spiral galaxies. Far infrared spectroscopy of star-forming galaxies shows that the interstellar pressure increases with star formation rate. The structure of the interstellar medium in starburst galaxies is quite different from that of quiescent galaxies - much of the mass and volume are in HII regions and photodissociation regions. The size distribution of dust grains seems to depend on environment; small grains are abundant in the diffuse interstellar medium but not in dense molecular star forming regions. Quiescent spiral and elliptical galaxies contain a significant population of small grains, but starburst galaxies do not. Dwarf irregular galaxies also seem to contain few small grains; this may be the result of the higher UV flux in these galaxies. The star forming regions in dwarf irregulars also have a higher ratio of atomic to molecular gas than do those in the Galaxy. These results show that the ISM in galaxies of different morphological types reaches different equilibria, resulting in different modes of star formation and global galaxy evolution.
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