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    A scaling law of radial gas distribution in disk galaxies

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    Based on the idea that local conditions within a galactic disk largely determine the region's evolution time scale, researchers built a theoretical model to take into account molecular cloud and star formations in the disk evolution process. Despite some variations that may be caused by spiral arms and central bulge masses, they found that many late-type galaxies show consistency with the model in their radial atomic and molecular gas profiles. In particular, researchers propose that a scaling law be used to generalize the gas distribution characteristics. This scaling law may be useful in helping to understand the observed gas contents in many galaxies. Their model assumes an exponential mass distribution with disk radius. Most of the mass are in atomic gas state at the beginning of the evolution. Molecular clouds form through a modified Schmidt Law which takes into account gravitational instabilities in a possible three-phase structure of diffuse interstellar medium (McKee and Ostriker, 1977; Balbus and Cowie, 1985); whereas star formation proceeds presumably unaffected by the environmental conditions outside of molecular clouds (Young, 1987). In such a model both atomic and molecular gas profiles in a typical galactic disk (as a result of the evolution) can be fitted simultaneously by adjusting the efficiency constants. Galaxies of different sizes and masses, on the other hand, can be compared with the model by simply scaling their characteristic length scales and shifting their radial ranges to match the assumed disk total mass profile sigma tot(r)