The ATLAS(3D) Project - XXVIII. Dynamically driven star formation suppression in early-type galaxies

Timothy A. Davis*, Lisa M. Young, Alison F. Crocker, Martin Bureau, Leo Blitz, Katherine Alatalo, Eric Emsellem, Thorsten Naab, Estelle Bayet, Maxime Bois, Frédéric Bournaud, Michele Cappellari, Roger L. Davies, P. T. De Zeeuw, Pierre Alain Duc, Sadegh Khochfar, Davor Krajnović, Harald Kuntschner, Richard M. McDermid, Raffaella MorgantiTom Oosterloo, Marc Sarzi, Nicholas Scott, Paolo Serra, Anne Marie Weijmans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Citations (Scopus)


We present measurements of the star formation rate (SFR) in the early-type galaxies (ETGs) of the ATLAS3D sample, based onWide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) 22 μmand Galaxy Evolution Explorer far-ultraviolet emission. We combine these with gas masses estimated from 12CO and HI data in order to investigate the star formation efficiency (SFE) in a larger sample of ETGs than previously available. We first recalibrate (based on WISE data) the relation between old stellar populations (traced at Ks band) and 22 μm luminosity, allowing us to remove the contribution of 22 μm emission from circumstellar dust. We then go on to investigate the position of ETGs on the Kennicutt-Schmidt (KS) relation. Molecular gas-rich ETGs have comparable star formation surface densities to normal spiral galaxy centres, but they lie systematically offset from the KS relation, having lower SFEs by a factor of ≈2.5 (in agreement with other authors). This effect is driven by galaxies where a substantial fraction of the molecular material is in the rising part of the rotation curve, and shear is high.We show here for the first time that although the number of stars formed per unit gas mass per unit time is lower in ETGs, it seems that the amount of stars formed per free-fall time is approximately constant. The scatter around this dynamical relation still correlates with galaxy properties such as the shape of the potential in the inner regions. This leads us to suggest that dynamical properties (such as shear or the global stability of the gas) may be important second parameters that regulate star formation and cause much of the scatter around star formation relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3427-3445
Number of pages19
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
  • galaxies: ISM
  • ISM: molecules
  • stars: mass-loss


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