Is the molecular KS relationship universal down to low metallicities?

David J. Whitworth, Rowan J. Smith, Robin Tress, Scott T. Kay, Simon C O Glover, Mattia C Sormani, Ralf S Klessen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years it has been speculated that in extreme low metallicity galactic environments, stars form in regions that lack H2. In this paper we investigate how changing the metallicity and UV-field strength of a galaxy affects the star formation within, and the molecular gas Kennicutt-Schmidt relation. Using extremely high resolution arepo simulations of isolated dwarf galaxies, we independently vary the metallicity and UV-field to between 1% and 10% solar neighbourhood values. We include a non-equilibrium, time-dependant chemical network to model the molecular composition of the ISM, and include the effects of gas shielding from
an ambient UV field. Crucially our simulations directly model the gravitational collapse of gas into star-forming clumps and cores and their subsequent accretion using sink particles. In this first publication we find that reducing the metallicity and UV-field by a factor of 10 has no effect on star formation, and minimal effect on the cold, dense star forming gas. The cold gas depletion times are almost an order of magnitude longer than the molecular gas depletion time due to the presence of star formation in HI dominated cold gas. We study the H2 KennicuttSchmidt relationship that arises naturally within the simulations and find a near linear power law index of Ν = 1.09 ± 0.014 in our fiducial 10% solar metallicity model. As the metallicity
and UV-field are reduced this becomes moderately steeper, with a slope of Ν =1.24 ± 0.022 for our 1% solar metallicity and 1% solar UV field model.

Key words: galaxies: ISM – ISM: clouds – ISM: structure – hydrodynamics – stars: formation
Original languageEnglish
JournalRoyal Astronomical Society. Monthly Notices
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Dec 2021


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