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Journal Articles The Astrophysical Journal Year : 2016

Characterizing Spiral Arm and Interarm Star Formation

K. Kreckel
G. A. Blanc
  • Function : Author
E. Schinnerer
B. Groves
A. Adamo
  • Function : Author
S. Meidt


Interarm star formation contributes significantly to a galaxy’s star formation budget and provides an opportunity to study stellar birthplaces unperturbed by spiral arm dynamics. Using optical integral field spectroscopy of the nearby galaxy NGC 628 with VLT/MUSE, we construct Hα maps including detailed corrections for dust extinction and stellar absorption to identify 391 H II regions at 35 pc resolution over 12 kpc2. Using tracers sensitive to the underlying gravitational potential, we associate H II regions with either arm (271) or interarm (120) environments. Using our full spectral coverage of each region, we find that most physical properties (luminosity, size, metallicity, ionization parameter) of H II regions are independent of environment. We calculate the fraction of Hα luminosity due to the background of diffuse ionized gas (DIG) contaminating each H II region, and find the DIG surface brightness to be higher within H II regions than in the surroundings, and slightly higher within arm H II regions. Use of the temperature-sensitive [S II]/Hα line ratio instead of the Hα surface brightness to identify the boundaries of H II regions does not change this result. Using the dust attenuation as a tracer of the gas, we find depletion times consistent with previous work (2 × 109 yr) with no differences between the arm and interarm, but this is very sensitive to the DIG correction. Unlike molecular clouds, which can be dynamically affected by the galactic environment, we see fairly consistent properties of H II regions in both arm and interarm environments. This suggests either a difference in star formation and feedback in arms or a decoupling of dense star-forming clumps from the more extended surrounding molecular gas.

Dates and versions

insu-03669454 , version 1 (16-05-2022)



K. Kreckel, G. A. Blanc, E. Schinnerer, B. Groves, A. Adamo, et al.. Characterizing Spiral Arm and Interarm Star Formation. The Astrophysical Journal, 2016, 827, ⟨10.3847/0004-637X/827/2/103⟩. ⟨insu-03669454⟩
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