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Title: A nearly constant CN/HCN line ratio in nearby galaxies: CN as a new tracer of dense gas

We investigate the relationship between CN N = 1 − 0 and HCN J = 1 − 0 emission on scales from 30 to 400 pc using ALMA archival data, for which CN is often observed simultaneously with the CO J = 1 − 0 line. In a sample of nine nearby galaxies ranging from ultra-luminous infrared galaxies to normal spiral galaxies, we measure a remarkably constant CN/HCN line intensity ratio of 0.86 ± 0.07 (standard deviation of 0.20). This relatively constant CN/HCN line ratio is rather unexpected, as models of photon dominated regions have suggested that HCN emission traces shielded regions with high column densities while CN should trace dense gas exposed to high ultraviolet radiation fields. We find that the CN/HCN line ratio shows no significant correlation with molecular gas surface density but shows a mild trend (increase of ∼1.3 per dex) with both star formation rate surface density and star formation efficiency (the inverse of the molecular gas depletion time). Some starburst and active galactic nuclei show small enhancements in their CN/HCN ratio, while other nuclei show no significant difference from their surrounding discs. The nearly constant CN/HCN line ratio implies that CN, like HCN, can be used as a tracer of dense gas mass and dense gas fraction more » in nearby galaxies.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 717-736
Oxford University Press
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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