Galactic-scale star formation by gravitational instability

Mordecai Mark Mac Low, Yuexing Li, Ralf S. Klessen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present numerical experiments that demonstrate that the nonlinear development of the Toomre instability in disks of isothermal gas, stars, and dark matter reproduces the observed Schmidt Law for star formation. The rate of gas collapse depends exponentially on the (minimum) value of the Toomre parameter in the disk. We demonstrate that spurious fragmentation occurs in the absence of sufficient resolution in our SPH model. Our models also reproduce observed star formation thresholds in disk galaxies. We finally briefly discuss the application of our models to the study of globular cluster formation in merging galaxies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-343
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the International Astronomical Union
Issue numberS237
StatePublished - Aug 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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