The universal acceleration scale from stellar feedback

Michael Y. Grudić*, Michael Boylan-Kolchin, Claude André Faucher-Giguère, Philip F. Hopkins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


It has been established for decades that rotation curves deviate from the Newtonian gravity expectation given baryons alone below a characteristic acceleration scale $g-{dagger }sim 10{-8}, rm {cm, s{-2}}$, a scale promoted to a new fundamental constant in MOND. In recent years, theoretical and observational studies have shown that the star formation efficiency (SFE) of dense gas scales with surface density, SFE ∼ς/ςcrit with $Sigma{rm crit} sim langle dot{p}/m-{ast }rangle /(pi , G)sim 1000, rm {M-{odot }, pc{-2}}$ (where $langle dot{p}/m-{ast }rangle$ is the momentum flux output by stellar feedback per unit stellar mass in a young stellar population). We argue that the SFE, more generally, should scale with the local gravitational acceleration, i.e. that SFE ${sim}g-{rm tot}/g-{rm crit}equiv (G, M-{rm tot}/R{2}) / langle dot{p}/m-{ast }rangle$, where Mtot is the total gravitating mass and $g-{rm crit}=langle dot{p}/m-{ast }rangle = pi , G, Sigma -{rm crit} approx 10{-8}, rm {cm, s{-2}} approx mathit{ g}-{dagger }$. Hence, the observed g may correspond to the characteristic acceleration scale above which stellar feedback cannot prevent efficient star formation, and baryons will eventually come to dominate. We further show how this may give rise to the observed acceleration scaling $g-{rm obs}sim (g-{rm baryon}, g-{dagger }){1/2}$ (where gbaryon is the acceleration due to baryons alone) and flat rotation curves. The derived characteristic acceleration g can be expressed in terms of fundamental constants (gravitational constant, proton mass, and Thomson cross-section): $g-{dagger }sim 0.1, G, m-{mathrm{ p}}/sigma -{rm T}$.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L127-L132
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 22 2020


  • cosmology: dark matter
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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