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  1. Abstract

    We measure the CO-to-H2conversion factor (αCO) in 37 galaxies at 2 kpc resolution, using the dust surface density inferred from far-infrared emission as a tracer of the gas surface density and assuming a constant dust-to-metal ratio. In total, we have ∼790 and ∼610 independent measurements ofαCOfor CO (2–1) and (1–0), respectively. The mean values forαCO (2–1)andαCO (1–0)are9.35.4+4.6and4.22.0+1.9Mpc2(Kkms1)1, respectively. The CO-intensity-weighted mean is 5.69 forαCO (2–1)and 3.33 forαCO (1–0). We examine howαCOscales with several physical quantities, e.g., the star formation rate (SFR), stellar mass, and dust-mass-weighted average interstellar radiation field strength (U¯). Among them,U¯, ΣSFR, and the integrated CO intensity (WCO) have the strongest anticorrelation with spatially resolvedαCO. We provide linear regression results toαCOfor all quantities tested. At galaxy-integrated scales, we observe significant correlations betweenαCOandWCO, metallicity,U¯, and ΣSFR. We also find thatαCOin each galaxy decreases with the stellar mass surface density (Σ) in high-surface-density regions (Σ≥ 100Mpc−2), following the power-law relationsαCO(21)Σ0.5andαCO(10)Σ0.2. The power-law index is insensitive to the assumed dust-to-metal ratio. We interpret the decrease inαCOwith increasing Σas a result of higher velocity dispersion compared to isolated, self-gravitating clouds due to the additional gravitational force from stellar sources, which leads to the reduction inαCO. The decrease inαCOat high Σis important for accurately assessing molecular gas content and star formation efficiency in the centers of galaxies, which bridge “Milky Way–like” to “starburst-like” conversion factors.

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    Young stellar objects (YSOs) are the gold standard for tracing star formation in galaxies but have been unobservable beyond the Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds. But that all changed when the JWST was launched, which we use to identify YSOs in the Local Group galaxy M33, marking the first time that individual YSOs have been identified at these large distances. We present Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) imaging mosaics at 5.6 and 21 $\mu$m that cover a significant portion of one of M33’s spiral arms that has existing panchromatic imaging from the Hubble Space Telescope and deep Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array CO measurements. Using these MIRI and Hubble Space Telescope images, we identify point sources using the new dolphot MIRI module. We identify 793 candidate YSOs from cuts based on colour, proximity to giant molecular clouds (GMCs), and visual inspection. Similar to Milky Way GMCs, we find that higher mass GMCs contain more YSOs and YSO emission, which further show YSOs identify star formation better than most tracers that cannot capture this relationship at cloud scales. We find evidence of enhanced star formation efficiency in the southern spiral arm by comparing the YSOs to the molecular gas mass.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 23, 2024
  3. Carbon monoxide (CO) emission constitutes the most widely used tracer of the bulk molecular gas in the interstellar medium (ISM) in extragalactic studies. The CO-to-H 2 conversion factor, α 12 CO(1−0) , links the observed CO emission to the total molecular gas mass. However, no single prescription perfectly describes the variation of α 12 CO(1−0) across all environments within and across galaxies as a function of metallicity, molecular gas opacity, line excitation, and other factors. Using spectral line observations of CO and its isotopologues mapped across a nearby galaxy, we can constrain the molecular gas conditions and link them to a variation in α 12 CO(1−0) . Here, we present new, wide-field (10 × 10 arcmin 2 ) IRAM 30-m telescope 1 mm and 3 mm line observations of 12 CO, 13 CO, and C 18 O across the nearby, grand-design, spiral galaxy M101. From the CO isotopologue line ratio analysis alone, we find that selective nucleosynthesis and changes in the opacity are the main drivers of the variation in the line emission across the galaxy. In a further analysis step, we estimated α 12 CO(1−0) using different approaches, including (i) via the dust mass surface density derived from far-IR emission as an independent tracer of the total gas surface density and (ii) local thermal equilibrium (LTE) based measurements using the optically thin 13 CO(1–0) intensity. We find an average value of ⟨ α 12 CO(1 − 0) ⟩ = 4.4  ±  0.9  M ⊙  pc −2  (K km s −1 ) −1 across the disk of the galaxy, with a decrease by a factor of 10 toward the 2 kpc central region. In contrast, we find LTE-based α 12 CO(1−0) values are lower by a factor of 2–3 across the disk relative to the dust-based result. Accounting for α 12 CO(1−0) variations, we found significantly reduced molecular gas depletion time by a factor 10 in the galaxy’s center. In conclusion, our result suggests implications for commonly derived scaling relations, such as an underestimation of the slope of the Kennicutt Schmidt law, if α 12 CO(1−0) variations are not accounted for. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  4. Abstract

    We present a detailed analysis of the structure of the Local Group flocculent spiral galaxy M33, as measured using the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury Triangulum Extended Region (PHATTER) survey. Leveraging the multiwavelength coverage of PHATTER, we find that the oldest populations are dominated by a smooth exponential disk with two distinct spiral arms and a classical central bar—completely distinct from what is seen in broadband optical imaging, and the first-ever confirmation of a bar in M33. We estimate a bar extent of ∼1 kpc. The two spiral arms are asymmetric in orientation and strength, and likely represent the innermost impact of the recent tidal interaction responsible for M33's warp at larger scales. The flocculent multiarmed morphology for which M33 is known is only visible in the young upper main-sequence population, which closely tracks the morphology of the interstellar medium. We investigate the stability of M33's disk, findingQ∼ 1 over the majority of the disk. We fit multiple components to the old stellar density distribution and find that, when considering recent stellar kinematics, M33's bulk structure favors the inclusion of an accreted halo component, modeled as a broken power law. The best-fit halo has an outer power-law index of −3 and accurately describes observational evidence of M33's stellar halo from both resolved stellar spectroscopy in the disk and its stellar populations at large radius. Integrating this profile yields a total halo stellar mass of ∼5 × 108M, for a stellar halo mass fraction of 16%, most of which resides in the innermost 2.5 kpc.

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    We use young clusters and giant molecular clouds (GMCs) in the galaxies M33 and M31 to constrain temporal and spatial scales in the star formation process. In M33, we compare the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury: Triangulum Extended Region (PHATTER) catalogue of 1214 clusters with ages measured via colour–magnitude diagram (CMD) fitting to 444 GMCs identified from a new 35 pc resolution Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) 12CO(2–1) survey. In M31, we compare the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury (PHAT) catalogue of 1249 clusters to 251 GMCs measured from a Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA) 12CO(1–0) survey with 20 pc resolution. Through two-point correlation analysis, we find that young clusters have a high probability of being near other young clusters, but correlation between GMCs is suppressed by the cloud identification algorithm. By comparing the positions, we find that younger clusters are closer to GMCs than older clusters. Through cross-correlation analysis of the M33 cluster data, we find that clusters are statistically associated when they are ≤10 Myr old. Utilizing the high precision ages of the clusters, we find that clusters older than ≈18 Myr are uncorrelated with the molecular interstellar medium (ISM). Using the spatial coincidence of the youngest clusters and GMCs in M33, we estimate that clusters spend ≈4–6 Myr inside their parent GMC. Through similar analysis, we find that the GMCs in M33 have a total lifetime of ≈11–15 Myr. We also develop a drift model and show that the above correlations can be explained if the clusters in M33 have a 5–10 km s−1 velocity dispersion relative to the molecular ISM.

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  6. null (Ed.)
  7. Abstract We compare mid-infrared (mid-IR), extinction-corrected H α , and CO (2–1) emission at 70–160 pc resolution in the first four PHANGS–JWST targets. We report correlation strengths, intensity ratios, and power-law fits relating emission in JWST’s F770W, F1000W, F1130W, and F2100W bands to CO and H α . At these scales, CO and H α each correlate strongly with mid-IR emission, and these correlations are each stronger than the one relating CO to H α emission. This reflects that mid-IR emission simultaneously acts as a dust column density tracer, leading to a good match with the molecular-gas-tracing CO, and as a heating tracer, leading to a good match with the H α . By combining mid-IR, CO, and H α at scales where the overall correlation between cold gas and star formation begins to break down, we are able to separate these two effects. We model the mid-IR above I ν = 0.5 MJy sr −1 at F770W, a cut designed to select regions where the molecular gas dominates the interstellar medium (ISM) mass. This bright emission can be described to first order by a model that combines a CO-tracing component and an H α -tracing component. The best-fitting models imply that ∼50% of the mid-IR flux arises from molecular gas heated by the diffuse interstellar radiation field, with the remaining ∼50% associated with bright, dusty star-forming regions. We discuss differences between the F770W, F1000W, and F1130W bands and the continuum-dominated F2100W band and suggest next steps for using the mid-IR as an ISM tracer. 
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  8. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Previous work has argued that atomic gas mass estimates of galaxies from 21-cm H i emission are systematically low due to a cold opaque atomic gas component. If true, this opaque component necessitates a $\sim 35{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ correction factor relative to the mass from assuming optically thin H i emission. These mass corrections are based on fitting H i spectra with a single opaque component model that produces a distinct ‘top-hat’ shaped line profile. Here, we investigate this issue using deep, high spectral resolution H i VLA observations of M31 and M33 to test if these top-hat profiles are instead superpositions of multiple H i components along the line of sight. We fit both models and find that ${\gt}80{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of the spectra strongly prefer a multicomponent Gaussian model while ${\lt}2{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ prefer the single opacity-corrected component model. This strong preference for multiple components argues against previous findings of lines of sight dominated by only cold H i. Our findings are enabled by the improved spectral resolution (0.42 ${\rm km\, s^{-1}}$), whereas coarser spectral resolution blends multiple components together. We also show that the inferred opaque atomic ISM mass strongly depends on the goodness-of-fit definition and is highly uncertain when the inferred spin temperature has a large uncertainty. Finally, we find that the relation of the H i surface density with the dust surface density and extinction has significantly more scatter when the inferred H i opacity correction is applied. These variations are difficult to explain without additionally requiring large variations in the dust properties. Based on these findings, we suggest that the opaque H i mass is best constrained by H i absorption studies. 
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  9. null (Ed.)