August 2021 • 2021ApJ...916...73S
Abstract • Nuclear rings are excellent laboratories for studying intense star formation. We present results from a study of nuclear star-forming rings in five nearby normal galaxies from the Star Formation in Radio Survey (SFRS) and four local LIRGs from the Great Observatories All-sky LIRG Survey at sub-kiloparsec resolutions using Very Large Array high-frequency radio continuum observations. We find that nuclear ring star formation (NRSF) contributes 49%-60% of the total star formation of the LIRGs, compared to 7%-40% for the normal galaxies. We characterize a total of 57 individual star-forming regions in these rings, and find that with measured sizes of 10-200 pc, NRSF regions in the LIRGs have star formation rate (SFR) and ΣSFR up to 1.7 M⊙ yr-1 and 402 M⊙ yr-1 kpc-2, respectively, which are about 10 times higher than in NRSF regions in the normal galaxies with similar sizes, and comparable to lensed high-z star-forming regions. At ~100-300 pc scales, we estimate low contributions (<50%) of thermal free-free emission to total radio continuum emission at 33 GHz in the NRSF regions in the LIRGs, but large variations possibly exist at smaller physical scales. Finally, using archival sub-kiloparsec resolution CO (J = 1-0) data of nuclear rings in the normal galaxies and NGC 7469 (LIRG), we find a large scatter in gas depletion times at similar molecular gas surface densities, which tentatively points to a multimodal star formation relation on sub-kiloparsec scales.