We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Professor Ian Smail

Swinbank, A. M., Dye, S., Nightingale, J. W., Furlanetto, C., Smail, Ian, Cooray, A., Dannerbauer, H., Dunne, L., Eales, S., Gavazzi, R., Hunter, T., Ivison, R. J., Negrello, M., Oteo-Gomez, I., Smit, R., van der Werf, P. & Vlahakis, C. (2015). ALMA Resolves the Properties of Star-forming Regions in a Dense Gas Disk at z ~ 3. The Astrophysical Journal Letters 806(1): L17.

Author(s) from Durham


We exploit long baseline ALMA submillimeter observations of the lensed star-forming galaxy SDP 81 at z = 3.042
to investigate the properties of the interstellar medium (ISM) on scales of 50–100 pc. The kinematics of the 12CO
gas within this system are welldescribed by a rotationally supported disk with an inclination-corrected rotation
speed, vrot = 320 ± 20 km s−1, and a dynamical mass of Mdyn = (3.5 ± 1.0)× 1010 M within a radius of 1.5 kpc.
The disk is gas-rich and unstable, with a Toomre parameter, Q = 0.30 ± 0.10, and so into star-forming regions
with Jeans length LJ ~ 130 pc. We identify five star-forming regions within the ISM on these scales and show that
their scaling relations between luminosity, line widths, and sizes are significantly offset from those typical of
molecular clouds in local galaxies (Larson’s relations). These offsets are likely to be caused by the high external
hydrostatic pressure for the ISM, Ptot/kB~ 40 20
+ × 107 K cm−3, which is ∼104× higher than the typical ISM
pressure in the Milky Way. The physical conditions of the star-forming ISM and giant molecular clouds appear to
be similar to those found in the densest environments in the local universe, such as those in the Galactic center.