Embedded star formation in S4G galaxy dust lanes

Debra M. Elmegreen, Bruce G. Elmegreen, Santiago Erroz-Ferrer, Johan H. Knapen, Yaron Teich, Mark Popinchalk, E. Athanassoula, Albert Bosma, Sébastien Comerón, Yuri N. Efremov, Dimitri A. Gadotti, Armando Gil De Paz, Joannah L. Hinz, Luis C. Ho, Benne Holwerda, Taehyun Kim, Jarkko Laine, Eija Laurikainen, Karín Menéndez-Delmestre, Trisha MizusawaJuan Carlos Muñoz-Mateos, Michael W. Regan, Heikki Salo, Mark Seibert, Kartik Sheth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Star-forming regions that are visible at 3.6 μm and Hα but not in the u, g, r, i, z bands of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey are measured in five nearby spiral galaxies to find extinctions averaging ∼3.8 mag and stellar masses averaging ∼5 × 104 M . These regions are apparently young star complexes embedded in dark filamentary shock fronts connected with spiral arms. The associated cloud masses are ∼10 7 M . The conditions required to make such complexes are explored, including gravitational instabilities in spiral-shocked gas and compression of incident clouds. We find that instabilities are too slow for a complete collapse of the observed spiral filaments, but they could lead to star formation in the denser parts. Compression of incident clouds can produce a faster collapse but has difficulty explaining the semi-regular spacing of some regions along the arms. If gravitational instabilities are involved, then the condensations have the local Jeans mass. Also in this case, the near-simultaneous appearance of equally spaced complexes suggests that the dust lanes, and perhaps the arms too, are relatively young.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number32
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • galaxies: spiral
  • galaxies: star clusters: general
  • galaxies: star formation
  • stars: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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