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  1. ABSTRACT

    The low-J rotational transitions of 12CO are commonly used to trace the distribution of molecular gas in galaxies. Their ratios are sensitive to excitation and physical conditions in the molecular gas. Spatially resolved studies of CO ratios are still sparse and affected by flux calibration uncertainties, especially since most do not have high angular resolution or do not have short-spacing information and hence miss any diffuse emission. We compare the low-J CO ratios across the disc of two massive, star-forming spiral galaxies NGC 2903 and NGC 3627 to investigate whether and how local environments drive excitation variations at GMC scales. We use Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) observations of the three lowest-J CO transitions at a common angular resolution of 4 arcsec (190 pc). We measure median line ratios of $R_{21}=0.67^{+0.13}_{-0.11}$, $R_{32}=0.33^{+0.09}_{-0.08}$, and $R_{31}=0.24^{+0.10}_{-0.09}$ across the full disc of NGC 3627. We see clear CO line ratio variation across the galaxy consistent with changes in temperature and density of the molecular gas. In particular, towards the centre, R21, R32, and R31 increase by 35  per cent, 50  per cent, and 66  per cent, respectively, compared to their average disc values. The overall line ratio trends suggest that CO(3–2) is more sensitive to changes in the excitation conditions than the two lower J transitions. Furthermore, we find a similar radial R32 trend in NGC 2903, albeit a larger disc-wide average of $\langle R_{32}\rangle =0.47^{+0.14}_{-0.08}$. We conclude that the CO low-J line ratios vary across environments in such a way that they can trace changes in the molecular gas conditions, with the main driver being changes in temperature.

     
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  2. Nitrogen hydrides such as NH3 and N2H+ are widely used by Galactic observers to trace the cold dense regions of the interstellar medium. In external galaxies, because of limited sensitivity, HCN has become the most common tracer of dense gas over large parts of galaxies. We provide the first systematic measurements of N2H+ (1-0) across different environments of an external spiral galaxy, NGC 6946. We find a strong correlation (r > 0.98, p < 0.01) between the HCN (1-0) and N2H+ (1-0) intensities across the inner ∼8 kpc of the galaxy, at kiloparsec scales. This correlation is equally strong between the ratios N2H+ (1-0)/CO (1-0) and HCN (1-0)/CO (1-0), tracers of dense gas fractions (fdense). We measure an average intensity ratio of N2H+ (1-0)/HCN (1-0) = 0.15 ± 0.02 over our set of five IRAM-30m pointings. These trends are further supported by existing measurements for Galactic and extragalactic sources. This narrow distribution in the average ratio suggests that the observed systematic trends found in kiloparsec-scale extragalactic studies of fdense and the efficiency of dense gas (SFEdense) would not change if we employed N2H+ (1-0) as a more direct tracer of dense gas. At kiloparsec scales our results indicate that the HCN (1-0) emission can be used to predict the expected N2H+ (1-0) over those regions. Our results suggest that, even if HCN (1-0) and N2H+ (1-0) trace different density regimes within molecular clouds, subcloud differences average out at kiloparsec scales, yielding the two tracers proportional to each other. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  3. 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. 
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  4. Abstract

    Large-scale bars can fuel galaxy centers with molecular gas, often leading to the development of dense ringlike structures where intense star formation occurs, forming a very different environment compared to galactic disks. We pair ∼0.″3 (30 pc) resolution new JWST/MIRI imaging with archival ALMA CO(2–1) mapping of the central ∼5 kpc of the nearby barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365 to investigate the physical mechanisms responsible for this extreme star formation. The molecular gas morphology is resolved into two well-known bright bar lanes that surround a smooth dynamically cold gas disk (Rgal∼ 475 pc) reminiscent of non-star-forming disks in early-type galaxies and likely fed by gas inflow triggered by stellar feedback in the lanes. The lanes host a large number of JWST-identified massive young star clusters. We find some evidence for temporal star formation evolution along the ring. The complex kinematics in the gas lanes reveal strong streaming motions and may be consistent with convergence of gas streamlines expected there. Indeed, the extreme line widths are found to be the result of inter-“cloud” motion between gas peaks;ScousePydecomposition reveals multiple components with line widths of 〈σCO,scouse〉 ≈ 19 km s−1and surface densities ofΣH2,scouse800Mpc2, similar to the properties observed throughout the rest of the central molecular gas structure. Tailored hydrodynamical simulations exhibit many of the observed properties and imply that the observed structures are transient and highly time-variable. From our study of NGC 1365, we conclude that it is predominantly the high gas inflow triggered by the bar that is setting the star formation in its CMZ.

     
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  5. ABSTRACT The feedback from young stars (i.e. pre-supernova) is thought to play a crucial role in molecular cloud destruction. In this paper, we assess the feedback mechanisms acting within a sample of 5810 H ii regions identified from the PHANGS-MUSE survey of 19 nearby (<20 Mpc) star-forming, main-sequence spiral galaxies [log(M⋆/M⊙) = 9.4–11]. These optical spectroscopic maps are essential to constrain the physical properties of the H ii regions, which we use to investigate their internal pressure terms. We estimate the photoionized gas (Ptherm), direct radiation (Prad), and mechanical wind pressure (Pwind), which we compare to the confining pressure of their host environment (Pde). The H ii regions remain unresolved within our ∼50–100 pc resolution observations, so we place upper (Pmax) and lower (Pmin) limits on each of the pressures by using a minimum (i.e. clumpy structure) and maximum (i.e. smooth structure) size, respectively. We find that the Pmax measurements are broadly similar, and for Pmin the Ptherm is mildly dominant. We find that the majority of H ii regions are overpressured, Ptot/Pde = (Ptherm + Pwind + Prad)/Pde > 1, and expanding, yet there is a small sample of compact H ii regions with Ptot,max/Pde < 1 (∼1 per cent of the sample). These mostly reside in galaxy centres (Rgal < 1 kpc), or, specifically, environments of high gas surface density; log(Σgas/M⊙ pc−2) ∼ 2.5 (measured on kpc-scales). Lastly, we compare to a sample of literature measurements for Ptherm and Prad to investigate how dominant pressure term transitions over around 5 dex in spatial dynamic range and 10 dex in pressure. 
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