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  1. We present a multiline survey of the interstellar medium (ISM) in two z  > 6 quasar host galaxies, PJ231−20 ( z  = 6.59) and PJ308−21 ( z  = 6.23), and their two companion galaxies. Observations were carried out using the Atacama Large (sub-)Millimeter Array (ALMA). We targeted 11 transitions including atomic fine-structure lines (FSLs) and molecular lines: [NII] 205 μm , [CI] 369 μm , CO ( J up  = 7, 10, 15, 16), H 2 O 3 12  − 2 21 , 3 21  − 3 12 , 3 03  − 2 12 , and the OH 163 μm doublet. The underlying far-infrared (FIR) continuum samples the Rayleigh-Jeans tail of the respectivemore »dust emission. By combining this information with our earlier ALMA [CII] 158 μm observations, we explored the effects of star formation and black hole feedback on the ISM of the galaxies using the CLOUDY radiative transfer models. We estimated dust masses, spectral indexes, IR luminosities, and star-formation rates from the FIR continuum. The analysis of the FSLs indicates that the [CII] 158 μm and [CI] 369 μm emission arises predominantly from the neutral medium in photodissociation regions (PDRs). We find that line deficits agree with those of local luminous IR galaxies. The CO spectral line energy distributions (SLEDs) reveal significant high- J CO excitation in both quasar hosts. Our CO SLED modeling of the quasar PJ231−20 shows that PDRs dominate the molecular mass and CO luminosities for J up  ≤ 7, while the J up  ≥ 10 CO emission is likely driven by X-ray dissociation regions produced by the active galactic nucleus (AGN) at the very center of the quasar host. The J up  > 10 lines are undetected in the other galaxies in our study. The H 2 O 3 21  − 3 12 line detection in the same quasar places this object on the L H 2 O  −  L TIR relation found for low- z sources, thus suggesting that this water vapor transition is predominantly excited by IR pumping. Models of the H 2 O SLED and of the H 2 O-to-OH 163 μm ratio point to PDR contributions with high volume and column density ( n H  ∼ 0.8 × 10 5 cm −3 , N H  = 10 24 cm −2 ) in an intense radiation field. Our analysis suggests a less highly excited medium in the companion galaxies. However, the current data do not allow us to definitively rule out an AGN in these sources, as suggested by previous studies of the same objects. This work demonstrates the power of multiline studies of FIR diagnostics in order to dissect the physical conditions in the first massive galaxies emerging from cosmic dawn.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2022
  2. ABSTRACT We report the detection of the far-infrared (FIR) fine-structure line of singly ionized nitrogen, [N ii] 205 $\mu$m , within the peak epoch of galaxy assembly, from a strongly lensed galaxy, hereafter ‘The Red Radio Ring’; the RRR, at z = 2.55. We combine new observations of the ground-state and mid-J transitions of CO (Jup = 1, 5, 8), and the FIR spectral energy distribution (SED), to explore the multiphase interstellar medium (ISM) properties of the RRR. All line profiles suggest that the H ii regions, traced by [N ii] 205 $\mu$m , and the (diffuse and dense) molecular gas, traced by CO, are cospatial when averaged over kpc-sized regions.more »Using its mid-IR-to-millimetre (mm) SED, we derive a non-negligible dust attenuation of the [N ii] 205 $\mu$m line emission. Assuming a uniform dust screen approximation results a mean molecular gas column density >1024 cm−2, with a molecular gas-to-dust mass ratio of 100. It is clear that dust attenuation corrections should be accounted for when studying FIR fine-structure lines in such systems. The attenuation corrected ratio of $L_{\rm N\,{\small II}205} / L_{\rm IR(8\!-\!1000\, \mu m)} = 2.7 \times 10^{-4}$ is consistent with the dispersion of local and z > 4 SFGs. We find that the lower limit, [N ii] 205 $\mu$m -based star formation rate (SFR) is less than the IR-derived SFR by a factor of 4. Finally, the dust SED, CO line SED, and $L_{\rm N\,{\small II}205}$ line-to-IR luminosity ratio of the RRR is consistent with a starburst-powered ISM.« less
  3. 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 systemmore »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.« less