Shaping the dust mass-star-formation rate relation

Jens Hjorth, Christa Gall, Michał J. Michałowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

There is a remarkably tight relation between the observationally inferred dust masses and star-formation rates (SFRs) of Sloan Digital Sky Survey galaxies, M dust SFR1.11. Here we extend the M dust-SFR relation to the high end and show that it bends over at very large SFRs (i.e., dust masses are lower than predicted for a given SFR). We identify several distinct evolutionary processes in the diagram: (1) a star-bursting phase in which dust builds up rapidly at early times. The maximum attainable dust mass in this process is the cause of the bend-over of the relation. A high dust-formation efficiency, a bottom-light initial mass function, and negligible supernova shock dust destruction are required to produce sufficiently high dust masses. (2) A quiescent star-forming phase in which the subsequent parallel decline in dust mass and SFR gives rise to the M dust-SFR relation, through astration and dust destruction. The dust-to-gas ratio is approximately constant along the relation. We show that the power-law slope of the M dust-SFR relation is inversely proportional to the global Schmidt-Kennicutt law exponent (i.e., 0.9) in simple chemical evolution models. (3) A quenching phase which causes star formation to drop while the dust mass stays roughly constant or drops proportionally. Combined with merging, these processes, as well as the range in total baryonic mass, give rise to a complex population of the diagram which adds significant scatter to the original M dust-SFR relation. (4) At very high redshifts, a population of galaxies located significantly below the local relation is predicted.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL23
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2014

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • dust, extinction
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: high-redshift
  • galaxies: ISM


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