Samantha Benincasa (UC Davis)
"The life and death of stellar nurseries: GMCs and stellar clusters in cosmological simulations"
The connection between GMCs and star formation is complex, involving both the detailed structure of dense gas and the influence of the larger galactic environment. Modelling the connection between GMCs, stellar clusters, and galaxy-wide properties within in a cosmological setting has been difficult given the dynamic ranges involved. However, the Latte suite of FIRE-2 cosmological zoom-in simulations of Milky Way-type galaxies now allows us to do so, given their unprecedented adaptive spatial resolution down to 1 pc, able to resolve cloud-wide properties within a larger galactic environment. We present one of the first analyses of the properties of GMCs formed in the FIRE-2 cosmological simulation, showing intriguing first results on the distribution of GMCs and the interaction of these entities with stellar clusters, with focus on the role of these clusters in dispersing their birth environments. We find that clouds live no longer than 20 Myr and favour short lifetimes, on the order of 6 Myr. This suggests a large role for early stellar feedback and the galactic environment in shaping cloud lifetimes. If time allows, I will discuss new results on the role of radiative transfer and FUV heating in shaping the galactic environment using the simulation code Gasoline.