Feeding IC 342: The nuclear spiral of a starburst galaxy


IC 342 is a large nearby (1.8 Mpc, Turner and Hurt, 1991, hereafter T&H) spiral galaxy undergoing a moderate nuclear starburst. T&H have previously mapped the inner arcminute in CO-13(1-0) using the Owens Valley Millimeter Interferometer and found evidence that the nuclear molecular gas takes the form of spiral arms in a density wave pattern. They suggest that radial streaming along the arms may channel gas from the exterior of the galaxy into the nucleus, feeding the starburst. We have mapped the CO-12(1-0) emission of the inner 2 kpc of IC 342 at 2.8 inch resolution using the Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO) Millimeter Interferometer. The greater sensitivity of CO-12 observations has allowed us to trace the spiral pattern out to a total extent of greater than 1 kpc. The CO-12 observations extend considerably the structure observed at CO-13 and offer further evidence that a spiral density wave may extend from the disk into the nucleus of IC 342

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