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Title: Molecular gas in AzTEC/C159: a star-forming disk galaxy 1.3Gyr after the Big Bang
We studied the molecular gas properties of AzTEC/C159, a star-forming disk galaxy at $z=4.567$. We secured $^{12}$CO molecular line detections for the $J=2\to1$ and $J=5\to4$ transitions using the Karl G. Jansky VLA and the NOEMA interferometer. The broad (FWHM$\sim750\,{\rm km\,s}^{-1}$) and tentative double-peaked profiles of both $^{12}$CO lines are consistent with an extended molecular gas reservoir, which is distributed in a rotating disk as previously revealed from [CII] 158$\mu$m line observations. Based on the $^{12}$CO(2$\to$1) emission line we derived $L'_{\rm{CO}}=(3.4\pm0.6)\times10^{10}{\rm \,K\,km\,s}^{-1}{\rm \,pc}^{2}$, that yields a molecular gas mass of $M_{\rm H_2 }(\alpha_{\rm CO}/4.3)=(1.5\pm0.3)\times 10^{11}{\rm M}_\odot$ and unveils a gas-rich system with $\mu_{\rm gas}(\alpha_{\rm CO}/4.3)\equiv M_{\rm H_2}/M_\star=3.3\pm0.7$. The extreme star formation efficiency (SFE) of AzTEC/C159, parametrized by the ratio $L_{\rm{IR}}/L'_{\rm{CO}}=(216\pm80)\, {\rm L}_{\odot}{\rm \,(K\,km\,s}^{-1}{\rm \,pc}^{2})^{-1}$, is comparable to merger-driven starbursts such as local ultra-luminous infrared galaxies (ULIRGs) and SMGs. Likewise, the $^{12}$CO(5$\to$4)/CO(2$\to$1) line brightness temperature ratio of $r_{52}= 0.55\pm 0.15$ is consistent with high excitation conditions, similar to that observed in SMGs. We constrained the value for the $L'_{\text{CO}}-{\rm H}_2$ mass conversion factor in AzTEC/C159, i.e. $\alpha_{\text{CO}}=3.9^{+2.7}_{-1.3}{\rm \,M}_{\odot}{\rm \,K}^{-1}{\rm \,km}^{-1}{\rm \,s\,pc}^{-2}$, that is consistent with a self-gravitating molecular gas distribution as observed in local star-forming disk galaxies. Cold gas streams from cosmological filaments might be fueling a gravitationally unstable gas-rich disk in AzTEC/C159, which breaks into giant clumps forming stars as efficiently as in merger-driven systems and generate high gas excitation.  more » « less
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Astronomy & astrophysics
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National Science Foundation
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