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Physics and Astronomy


Star-forming regions that are visible at 3.6 μm and Hα but not in the u, g, r, i, z bands of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey are measured in five nearby spiral galaxies to find extinctions averaging ∼3.8 mag and stellar masses averaging ∼5 × 104 M. These regions are apparently young star complexes embedded in dark filamentary shock fronts connected with spiral arms. The associated cloud masses are ∼107 M. The conditions required to make such complexes are explored, including gravitational instabilities in spiral-shocked gas and compression of incident clouds. We find that instabilities are too slow for a complete collapse of the observed spiral filaments, but they could lead to star formation in the denser parts. Compression of incident clouds can produce a faster collapse but has difficulty explaining the semi-regular spacing of some regions along the arms. If gravitational instabilities are involved, then the condensations have the local Jeans mass. Also in this case, the near-simultaneous appearance of equally spaced complexes suggests that the dust lanes, and perhaps the arms too, are relatively young.


Copyright 2014. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

Original Publication Information

Elmegreen, Debra M., et al. "Embedded Star Formation in S4G Galaxy Dust Lanes." 2014. The Astrophysical Journal 780(1): 12 pp.