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Astron. Astrophys. 358, 433-450 (2000)

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Dense gas in nearby galaxies *

XIII. CO submillimeter line emission from the starburst galaxy M 82

R.Q. Mao 1,2,3, C. Henkel 1, A. Schulz 4,5, M. Zielinsky 6, R. Mauersberger 7,8,9, H. Störzer 6, T.L. Wilson 1,7 and P. Gensheimer 7

1 Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
2 Purple Mountain Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 210008 Nanjing, P.R. China
3 National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100018, P.R. China
4 Institut für Physik und Didaktik, Universität zu Köln, Gronewaldstrasse 22, 50931 Köln, Germany
5 Institut für Astrophysik und Extraterrestrische Forschung der Universität Bonn, Auf dem Hügel 71, 53121 Bonn, Germany
6 I. Physikalisches Institut der Universität zu Köln, Zülpicher Strasse 77, 50937 Köln, Germany
7 The University of Arizona, Submillimeter Telescope Observatory, Tucson AZ 85721, USA
8 The University of Arizona, Steward Observatory, Tucson AZ 85721, USA
9 Instituto de Radioastronomia Milimétrica, Avenida Divina Pastora, 7NC, 18012 Granada, Spain

Received 1 October 1999 / Accepted 3 March 2000


12CO J = 1-0, 2-1, 4-3, 7-6, and 13CO 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 line emission was mapped with angular resolutions of 13" - 22" toward the nuclear region of the archetypical starburst galaxy M 82. There are two hotspots on either side of the dynamical center, with the south-western lobe being slightly more prominent. Lobe spacings are not identical for all transitions: For the submillimeter CO lines, the spacing is [FORMULA]15"; for the millimeter lines (CO J = 2-1 and 1-0) the spacing is [FORMULA]26", indicating the presence of a `low' and a `high' CO excitation component.

A Large Velocity Gradient (LVG) excitation analysis of the submillimeter lines leads to inconsistencies, since area and volume filling factors are almost the same, resulting in cloud sizes along the lines-of-sight that match the entire size of the M 82 starburst region. Nevertheless, LVG column densities agree with estimates derived from the dust emission in the far infrared and at submillimeter wavelengths. 22" beam averaged total column densities are N(CO) [FORMULA] 5 1018 and N(H2) [FORMULA] 1023 [FORMULA]; the total molecular mass is a few 108 [FORMULA] @

Accounting for high UV fluxes and variations in kinetic temperature and assuming that the observed emission arises from photon dominated regions (PDRs) resolves the problems related to an LVG treatment of the radiative transfer. Spatial densities are as in the LVG case ([FORMULA]) [FORMULA] 103.7 [FORMULA] and [FORMULA]103[FORMULA] for the high and low excitation component, respectively), but 12CO/13CO intensity ratios [FORMULA]10 indicate that the bulk of the CO emission arises in UV-illuminated diffuse cloud fragments of small column density (N(H[FORMULA] [FORMULA] 5 1020 [FORMULA]/[FORMULA] @ and sub-parsec cloud sizes with area filling factors [FORMULA]1. Thus CO arises from quite a different gas component than the classical high density tracers (e.g. CS, HCN) that trace star formation rates more accurately. The dominance of such a diffuse molecular interclump medium also explains observed high [C I ]/CO line intensity ratios. PDR models do not allow a determination of the relative abundances of 12CO to 13CO. Ignoring magnetic fields, the CO emitting gas appears to be close to the density limit for tidal disruption. Neither changes in the 12C/13C abundance ratio nor variations of the incident far-UV flux provide good fits to the data for simulations of larger clouds.

A warm diffuse ISM not only dominates the CO emission in the starburst region of M 82 but is also ubiquitous in the central region of our Galaxy, where tidal stress, cloud-cloud collisions, shocks, high gas pressure, and high stellar densities may all contribute to the formation of a highly fragmented molecular debris. 12CO, 12CO/13CO, and [C I ]/CO line intensity ratios in NGC 253 (and NGC 4945) suggest that the CO emission from the centers of these galaxies arises in a physical environment that is similar to that in M 82. Starburst galaxies at large distances (z [FORMULA] 2.2-4.7) show 12CO line intensity ratios that are consistent with those observed in M 82. PDR models should be applicable to all these sources. 12CO/13CO line intensity ratios [FORMULA]10, sometimes observed in nearby ultraluminous mergers, require the presence of a particularly diffuse, extended molecular medium. Here [C I ]/CO abundance ratios should be as large or even larger than in M 82 and NGC 253.

Key words: galaxies: active – galaxies: individual: M 82 – galaxies: ISM – galaxies: nuclei – galaxies: starburst – radio lines: galaxies

* Based on observations with the Heinrich-Hertz-Telescope (HHT) and the IRAM 30-m telescope. The HHT is operated by the Submillimeter Telescope Observatory on behalf of Steward Observatory and the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

Send offprint requests to: C. Henkel (p220hen@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de)

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: June 8, 2000