366 research outputs found

    Characterizing the line emission from molecular clouds. II. A comparative study of California, Perseus, and Orion A

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    Aims.Aims. We characterize the molecular-line emission of three clouds whose star-formation rates span one order of magnitude: California, Perseus, and Orion A. Methods.Methods. We use stratified random sampling to select positions representing the different column density regimes of each cloud and observe them with the IRAM-30m telescope. We cover the 3 mm wavelength band and focus our analysis on CO, HCN, CS, HCO+, HNC, and N2H+. Results.Results. We find that the line intensities depend most strongly on the H2 column density. A secondary effect, especially visible in Orion A, is a dependence of the line intensities on the gas temperature. We explored a method that corrects for temperature variations and show that, when it is applied, the emission from the three clouds behaves very similarly. CO intensities vary weakly with column density, while the intensity of traditional dense-gas tracers such as HCN, CS, and HCO+ varies almost linearly with column density. N2H+ differs from all other species in that it traces only cold dense gas. The intensity of the rare HCN and CS isotopologs reveals additional temperature-dependent abundance variations. Overall, the clouds have similar chemical compositions that, as the depth increases, are sequentially dominated by photodissociation, gas-phase reactions, molecular freeze-out, and stellar feedback in the densest parts of Orion A. Our observations also allowed us to calculate line luminosities for each cloud, and a comparison with literature values shows good agreement. We used our HCN data to explore the behavior of the HCN conversion factor, finding that it is dominated by the emission from the outermost cloud layers. It also depends strongly on the gas kinetic temperature. Finally, we show that the HCN/CO ratio provides a gas volume density estimate, and that its correlation with the column density resembles that found in extragalactic observations.Comment: 36 pages, 19 figures, accepted for publication in A&

    Molecular line probes of activity in galaxies

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    The use of specific tracers of the dense molecular gas phase can help to explore the feedback of activity on the interstellar medium (ISM) in galaxies. This information is a key to any quantitative assessment of the efficiency of the star formation process in galaxies. We present the results of a survey devoted to probe the feedback of activity through the study of the excitation and chemistry of the dense molecular gas in a sample of local universe starbursts and active galactic nuclei (AGNs). Our sample includes also 17 luminous and ultraluminous infrared galaxies (LIRGs and ULIRGs). From the analysis of the LIRGs/ULIRGs subsample, published in Gracia-Carpio et al.(2007) we find the first clear observational evidence that the star formation efficiency of the dense gas, measured by the L_FIR/L_HCN ratio, is significantly higher in LIRGs and ULIRGs than in normal galaxies. Mounting evidence of overabundant HCN in active environments would even reinforce the reported trend, pointing to a significant turn upward in the Kennicutt-Schmidt law around L_FIR=10^11 L_sun. This result has major implications for the use of HCN as a tracer of the dense gas in local and high-redshift luminous infrared galaxies.Comment: 4 pages, 2 figures, contributed paper to Far-Infrared Workshop 07 (FIR 2007

    Characterizing the line emission from molecular clouds. Stratified random sampling of the Perseus cloud

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    Context.Context. The traditional approach to characterize the structure of molecular clouds is to map their line emission. Aims.Aims. We aim to test and apply a stratified random sampling technique that can characterize the line emission from molecular clouds more efficiently than mapping. Methods.Methods. We sampled the molecular emission from the Perseus cloud using the H2 column density as a proxy. We divided the cloud into ten logarithmically spaced column density bins, and we randomly selected ten positions from each bin. The resulting 100 cloud positions were observed with the IRAM 30m telescope, covering the 3mm-wavelength band and parts of the 2 and 1mm bands. Results.Results. We focus our analysis on 11 molecular species detected toward most column density bins. In all cases, the line intensity is tightly correlated with the H2 column density. For the CO isotopologs, the trend is relatively flat, while for high-dipole moment species such as HCN, CS, and HCO+ the trend is approximately linear. We reproduce this behavior with a cloud model in which the gas density increases with column density, and where most species have abundance profiles characterized by an outer photodissociation edge and an inner freeze-out drop. The intensity behavior of the high-dipole moment species arises from a combination of excitation effects and molecular freeze out, with some modulation from optical depth. This quasi-linear dependence with the H2 column density makes the gas at low column densities dominate the cloud-integrated emission. It also makes the emission from most high-dipole moment species proportional to the cloud mass inside the photodissociation edge. Conclusions.Conclusions. Stratified random sampling is an efficient technique for characterizing the emission from whole molecular clouds. It shows that despite the complex appearance of Perseus, its molecular emission follows a relatively simple pattern.Comment: 27 pages, 19 figures, accepted for publication in A&

    Modelling the Molecular Gas in NGC 6240

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    We present the first observations of H13^{13}CN(10)(1-0), H13^{13}CO+(10)^+(1-0) and SiO(21)(2-1) in NGC\,6240, obtained with the IRAM PdBI. Combining a Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) code with Large Velocity Gradient (LVG) modelling, and with additional data from the literature, we simultaneously fit three gas phases and six molecular species to constrain the physical condition of the molecular gas, including mass-luminosity conversion factors. We find 1010M\sim10^{10}M_\odot of dense molecular gas in cold, dense clouds (Tk10T_{\rm k}\sim10\,K, nH2106n_{{\rm H}_2}\sim10^6\,cm3^{-3}) with a volume filling factor <0.002<0.002, embedded in a shock heated molecular medium (Tk2000T_{\rm k}\sim2000\,K, nH2103.6n_{{\rm H}_2}\sim10^{3.6}\,cm3^{-3}), both surrounded by an extended diffuse phase (Tk200T_{\rm k}\sim200\,K, nH2102.5n_{{\rm H}_2}\sim10^{2.5}\,cm3^{-3}). We derive a global αCO=1.51.17.1\alpha_{\rm CO}=1.5^{7.1}_{1.1} with gas masses log10(M/[M])=10.110.010.8\log_{10}\left(M / [M_\odot]\right)=10.1_{10.0}^{10.8}, dominated by the dense gas. We also find αHCN=321389\alpha_{\rm HCN} = 32^{89}_{13}, which traces the cold, dense gas. The [12^{12}C]/[13^{13}C] ratio is only slightly elevated (986523098^{230}_{65}), contrary to the very high [CO]/[13^{13}CO] ratio (300-500) reported in the literature. However, we find very high [HCN]/[H13^{13}CN] and [HCO+^+]/[H13^{13}CO+^+] abundance ratios (300200500)(300^{500}_{200}) which we attribute to isotope fractionation in the cold, dense clouds.Comment: 27 pages, 17 figures, 9 tables. Accepted in Ap

    Detection of CO+ in the nucleus of M82

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    We present the detection of the reactive ion CO+ towards the prototypical starburst galaxy M82. This is the first secure detection of this short-lived ion in an external galaxy. Values of [CO+]/[HCO+]>0.04 are measured across the inner 650pc of the nuclear disk of M82. Such high values of the [CO+]/[HCO+] ratio had only been previously measured towards the atomic peak in the reflection nebula NGC7023. This detection corroborates that the molecular gas reservoir in the M82 disk is heavily affected by the UV radiation from the recently formed stars. Comparing the column densities measured in M82 with those found in prototypical Galactic photon-dominated regions (PDRs), we need \~20 clouds along the line of sight to explain our observations. We have completed our model of the molecular gas chemistry in the M82 nucleus. Our PDR chemical model successfully explains the [CO+]/[HCO+] ratios measured in the M~82 nucleus but fails by one order of magnitude to explain the large measured CO+ column densities (~1--4x10^{13} cm^{-2}). We explore possible routes to reconcile the chemical model and the observations.Comment: 12 pages, 2 figure

    Chemically Distinct Nuclei and Outflowing Shocked Molecular Gas in Arp 220

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    We present the results of interferometric spectral line observations of Arp 220 at 3.5mm and 1.2mm from the Plateau de Bure Interferometer (PdBI), imaging the two nuclear disks in H13^{13}CN(10)(1 - 0) and (32)(3 - 2), H13^{13}CO+(10)^+(1 - 0) and (32)(3 - 2), and HN13^{13}C(32)(3 - 2) as well as SiO(21)(2 - 1) and (65)(6 - 5), HC15^{15}N(32)(3 - 2), and SO(6655)(6_6 - 5_5). The gas traced by SiO(65)(6 - 5) has a complex and extended kinematic signature including a prominent P Cygni profile, almost identical to previous observations of HCO+(32)^+(3 - 2). Spatial offsets 0.10.1'' north and south of the continuum centre in the emission and absorption of the SiO(65)(6 - 5) P Cygni profile in the western nucleus (WN) imply a bipolar outflow, delineating the northern and southern edges of its disk and suggesting a disk radius of 40\sim40 pc, consistent with that found by ALMA observations of Arp 220. We address the blending of SiO(65)(6 - 5) and H13^{13}CO+(32)^+(3 - 2) by considering two limiting cases with regards to the H13^{13}CO+^+ emission throughout our analysis. Large velocity gradient (LVG) modelling is used to constrain the physical conditions of the gas and to infer abundance ratios in the two nuclei. Our most conservative lower limit on the [H13^{13}CN]/[H13^{13}CO+^+] abundance ratio is 11 in the WN, cf. 0.10 in the eastern nucleus (EN). Comparing these ratios to the literature we argue on chemical grounds for an energetically significant AGN in the WN driving either X-ray or shock chemistry, and a dominant starburst in the EN.Comment: 28 pages, 17 figures, accepted to Ap

    Widespread HCO emission in the M82's nuclear starburst

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    We present a high-resolution (~ 5'') image of the nucleus of M82 showing the presence of widespread emission of the formyl radical (HCO). The HCO map, the first obtained in an external galaxy, reveals the existence of a structured disk of ~ 650 pc full diameter. The HCO distribution in the plane mimics the ring morphology displayed by other molecular/ionized gas tracers in M82. More precisely, rings traced by HCO, CO and HII regions are nested, with the HCO ring lying in the outer edge of the molecular torus. Observations of HCO in galactic clouds indicate that the abundance of HCO is strongly enhanced in the interfaces between the ionized and molecular gas. The surprisingly high overall abundance of HCO measured in M82 (X(HCO) ~ 4x10^{-10}) indicates that its nuclear disk can be viewed as a giant Photon Dominated Region (PDR) of ~ 650 pc size. The existence of various nested gas rings, with the highest HCO abundance occurring at the outer ring (X(HCO) ~ 0.8x10^{-9}), suggests that PDR chemistry is propagating in the disk. We discuss the inferred large abundances of HCO in M82 in the context of a starburst evolutionary scenario, picturing the M82 nucleus as an evolved starburst.Comment: 13 pages, 3 figures, to appear in ApJ Letters; corrected list of author
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