skip to main content

Title: The ALMOND survey: molecular cloud properties and gas density tracers across 25 nearby spiral galaxies with ALMA

We use new HCN(1–0) data from the ACA Large-sample Mapping Of Nearby galaxies in Dense gas (ALMOND) survey to trace the kpc-scale molecular gas density structure and CO(2–1) data from the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS–Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (PHANGS–ALMA) to trace the bulk molecular gas across 25 nearby star-forming galaxies. At 2.1 kpc scale, we measure the density-sensitive HCN/CO line ratio and the star formation rate (SFR)/HCN ratio to trace the star formation efficiency in the denser molecular medium. At 150 pc scale, we measure structural and dynamical properties of the molecular gas via CO(2–1) line emission, which is linked to the lower resolution data using an intensity-weighted averaging method. We find positive correlations (negative) of HCN/CO (SFR/HCN) with the surface density, the velocity dispersion, and the internal turbulent pressure of the molecular gas. These observed correlations agree with expected trends from turbulent models of star formation, which consider a single free-fall time gravitational collapse. Our results show that the kpc-scale HCN/CO line ratio is a powerful tool to trace the 150 pc scale average density distribution of the molecular clouds. Lastly, we find systematic variations of the SFR/HCN ratio with cloud-scale molecular gas properties, which are incompatible with a universal star formation efficiency. Overall, these findings show that mean molecular gas density, molecular cloud properties, and star formation are closely linked in a coherent way, and observations of density-sensitive molecular gas tracers are a useful tool to analyse these variations, linking molecular gas physics to stellar output across galaxy discs.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more » ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; « less
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Medium: X Size: p. 3348-3383
["p. 3348-3383"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. The complex physical, kinematic, and chemical properties of galaxy centres make them interesting environments to examine with molecular line emission. We present new 2 − 4″ (∼75 − 150 pc at 7.7 Mpc) observations at 2 and 3 mm covering the central 50″ (∼1.9 kpc) of the nearby double-barred spiral galaxy NGC 6946 obtained with the IRAM Plateau de Bure Interferometer. We detect spectral lines from ten molecules: CO, HCN, HCO + , HNC, CS, HC 3 N, N 2 H + , C 2 H, CH 3 OH, and H 2 CO. We complemented these with published 1 mm CO observations and 33 GHz continuum observations to explore the star formation rate surface density Σ SFR on 150 pc scales. In this paper, we analyse regions associated with the inner bar of NGC 6946 – the nuclear region (NUC), the northern (NBE), and southern inner bar end (SBE) and we focus on short-spacing corrected bulk (CO) and dense gas tracers (HCN, HCO + , and HNC). We find that HCO + correlates best with Σ SFR , but the dense gas fraction ( f dense ) and star formation efficiency of the dense gas (SFE dense ) fits show different behaviours than expected from large-scale disc observations. The SBE has a higher Σ SFR , f dense , and shocked gas fraction than the NBE. We examine line ratio diagnostics and find a higher CO(2−1)/CO(1−0) ratio towards NBE than for the NUC. Moreover, comparison with existing extragalactic datasets suggests that using the HCN/HNC ratio to probe kinetic temperatures is not suitable on kiloparsec and sub-kiloparsec scales in extragalactic regions. Lastly, our study shows that the HCO + /HCN ratio might not be a unique indicator to diagnose AGN activity in galaxies. 
    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    Context. Recent surveys of the Galactic plane in the dust continuum and CO emission lines reveal that large (≳50 pc) and massive (≳10 5 M ⊙ ) filaments, know as giant molecular filaments (GMFs), may be linked to Galactic dynamics and trace the mid-plane of the gravitational potential in the Milky Way. Yet our physical understanding of GMFs is still poor. Aims. We investigate the dense gas properties of one GMF, with the ultimate goal of connecting these dense gas tracers with star formation processes in the GMF. Methods. We imaged one entire GMF located at l ~ 52–54° longitude, GMF54 (~68 pc long), in the empirical dense gas tracers using the HCN(1–0), HNC(1–0), and HCO + (1–0) lines, and their 13 C isotopologue transitions, as well as the N 2 H + (1–0) line. We studied the dense gas distribution, the column density probability density functions (N-PDFs), and the line ratios within the GMF. Results. The dense gas molecular transitions follow the extended structure of the filament with area filling factors between 0.06 and 0.28 with respect to 13 CO(1–0). We constructed the N-PDFs of H 2 for each of the dense gas tracers based on their column densities and assumed uniform abundance. The N-PDFs of the dense gas tracers appear curved in log–log representation, and the HCO + N-PDF has the flattest power-law slope index. Studying the N-PDFs for sub-regions of GMF54, we found an evolutionary trend in the N-PDFs that high-mass star-forming and photon-dominated regions have flatter power-law indices. The integrated intensity ratios of the molecular lines in GMF54 are comparable to those in nearby galaxies. In particular, the N 2 H + / 13 CO ratio, which traces the dense gas fraction, has similar values in GMF54 and all nearby galaxies except Ultraluminous Infrared Galaxies. Conclusions. As the largest coherent cold gaseous structure in our Milky Way, GMFs, are outstanding candidates for connecting studies of star formation on Galactic and extragalactic scales. By analyzing a complete map of the dense gas in a GMF we have found that: (1) the dense gas N-PDFs appear flatter in more evolved regions and steeper in younger regions, and (2) its integrated dense gas intensity ratios are similar to those of nearby galaxies. 
    more » « less
  3. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Both the CO(2–1) and CO(1–0) lines are used to trace the mass of molecular gas in galaxies. Translating the molecular gas mass estimates between studies using different lines requires a good understanding of the behaviour of the CO(2–1)-to-CO(1–0) ratio, R21. We compare new, high-quality CO(1–0) data from the IRAM 30-m EMIR MultiLine Probe of the ISM Regulating Galaxy Evolution survey to the latest available CO(2–1) maps from HERA CO-Line Extragalactic Survey, Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby Galaxies-ALMA, and a new IRAM 30-m M51 Large Program. This allows us to measure R21 across the full star-forming disc of nine nearby, massive, star-forming spiral galaxies at 27 arcsec (∼1–2 kpc) resolution. We find an average R21 = 0.64 ± 0.09 when we take the luminosity-weighted mean of all individual galaxies. This result is consistent with the mean ratio for disc galaxies that we derive from single-pointing measurements in the literature, $R_{\rm 21, lit}~=~0.59^{+0.18}_{-0.09}$. The ratio shows weak radial variations compared to the point-to-point scatter in the data. In six out of nine targets, the central enhancement in R21 with respect to the galaxy-wide mean is of order of ${\sim}10{-}20{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$. We estimate an azimuthal scatter of ∼20 per cent in R21 at fixed galactocentric radius but this measurement is limited by our comparatively coarse resolution of 1.5 kpc. We find mild correlations between R21 and carbon monoxide (CO) brightness temperature, infrared (IR) intensity, 70–160 µm ratio, and IR-to-CO ratio. All correlations indicate that R21 increases with gas surface density, star formation rate surface density, and the interstellar radiation field. 
    more » « less
  4. Exploiting the sensitivity of the IRAM NOrthern Extended Millimeter Array (NOEMA) and its ability to process large instantaneous bandwidths, we have studied the morphology and other properties of the molecular gas and dust in the star forming galaxy, H-ATLAS J131611.5+281219 (HerBS-89a), at z = 2.95. High angular resolution (0 . ″3) images reveal a partial 1 . ″0 diameter Einstein ring in the dust continuum emission and the molecular emission lines of 12 CO(9−8) and H 2 O(2 02  − 1 11 ). Together with lower angular resolution (0 . ″6) images, we report the detection of a series of molecular lines including the three fundamental transitions of the molecular ion OH + , namely (1 1  − 0 1 ), (1 2  − 0 1 ), and (1 0  − 0 1 ), seen in absorption; the molecular ion CH + (1 − 0) seen in absorption, and tentatively in emission; two transitions of amidogen (NH 2 ), namely (2 02  − 1 11 ) and (2 20  − 2 11 ) seen in emission; and HCN(11 − 10) and/or NH(1 2  − 0 1 ) seen in absorption. The NOEMA data are complemented with Very Large Array data tracing the 12 CO(1 − 0) emission line, which provides a measurement of the total mass of molecular gas and an anchor for a CO excitation analysis. In addition, we present Hubble Space Telescope imaging that reveals the foreground lensing galaxy in the near-infrared (1.15  μ m). Together with photometric data from the Gran Telescopio Canarias, we derive a photometric redshift of z phot = 0.9 −0.5 +0.3 for the foreground lensing galaxy. Modeling the lensing of HerBS-89a, we reconstruct the dust continuum (magnified by a factor μ  ≃ 5.0) and molecular emission lines (magnified by μ  ∼ 4 − 5) in the source plane, which probe scales of ∼0 . ″1 (or 800 pc). The 12 CO(9 − 8) and H 2 O(2 02  − 1 11 ) emission lines have comparable spatial and kinematic distributions; the source-plane reconstructions do not clearly distinguish between a one-component and a two-component scenario, but the latter, which reveals two compact rotating components with sizes of ≈1 kpc that are likely merging, more naturally accounts for the broad line widths observed in HerBS-89a. In the core of HerBS-89a, very dense gas with n H 2  ∼ 10 7 − 9 cm −3 is revealed by the NH 2 emission lines and the possible HCN(11 − 10) absorption line. HerBS-89a is a powerful star forming galaxy with a molecular gas mass of M mol  = (2.1 ± 0.4) × 10 11   M ⊙ , an infrared luminosity of L IR  = (4.6 ± 0.4) × 10 12   L ⊙ , and a dust mass of M dust  = (2.6 ± 0.2) × 10 9   M ⊙ , yielding a dust-to-gas ratio δ GDR  ≈ 80. We derive a star formation rate SFR = 614 ± 59  M ⊙ yr −1 and a depletion timescale τ depl  = (3.4 ± 1.0) × 10 8 years. The OH + and CH + absorption lines, which trace low (∼100 cm −3 ) density molecular gas, all have their main velocity component red-shifted by Δ V  ∼ 100 km s −1 relative to the global CO reservoir. We argue that these absorption lines trace a rare example of gas inflow toward the center of a galaxy, indicating that HerBS-89a is accreting gas from its surroundings. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    We report observations of the ground state transitions of12CO,13CO, C18O, HCN, and HCO+at 88–115 GHz in the inner region of the nearby galaxy IC 342. These data were obtained with the 16 pixel spectroscopic focal plane array Argus on the 100 m Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) at 6″–9″ resolution. In the nuclear bar region, the intensity distributions of12CO(1–0) and13CO(1–0) emission trace moderate densities, and differ from the dense gas distributions sampled in C18O(1–0), HCN(1–0), and HCO+(1–0). We observe a constant HCN(1–0)-to-HCO+(1–0) ratio of 1.2 ± 0.1 across the whole ∼1 kpc bar. This indicates that the HCN(1–0) and HCO+(1–0) lines have intermediate optical depth, and that the correspondingnH2of the gas producing the emission is of order 104.5−6cm−3. We show that HCO+(1–0) is thermalized and HCN(1–0) is close to thermalization. The very tight correlation between the HCN(1–0) and HCO+(1–0) intensities across the 1 kpc bar suggests that this ratio is more sensitive to the relative abundance of the two species than to the gas density. We confirm an angular offset (∼10″) between the spatial distribution of molecular gas and the star formation sites. Finally, we find a breakdown of theLIRLHCNcorrelation at high spatial resolution due to the effect of incomplete sampling of star-forming regions by HCN emission in IC 342. The scatter of theLIRLHCNrelation decreases as the spatial scale increases from 10″ to 30″ (170–510 pc), and is comparable to the scatter of the global relation at a scale of 340 pc.

    more » « less