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Astron. Astrophys. 363, 93-107 (2000)

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Changing molecular gas properties in the bar and center of NGC 7479

S. Hüttemeister 1, S. Aalto 2, M. Das 3,4 and W.F. Wall 5

1 Radioastronomisches Institut der Universität Bonn, Auf dem Hügel 71, 53121 Bonn, Germany
2 Onsala Space Observatory, 43992 Onsala, Sweden
3 Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore, India
4 Department of Astronomy, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
5 INAOE, 72000 Puebla, Mexico

Received 20 March 2000 / Accepted 24 August 2000


We present sensitive interferometric 12CO, 13CO and HCN observations of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 7479, one of the few barred galaxies known to have a continuous gas-filled bar. We focus on the investigation and interpretation of 12CO/13CO line intensity ratios [FORMULA], which is facilitated by having more than 90% of the flux in our interferometer maps. The global (9 kpc by 2.5 kpc) value of [FORMULA] is high at 20-40. On smaller scales ([FORMULA] pc), [FORMULA] is found to vary dramatically, reaching values [FORMULA] in large parts of the bar, but dropping to values [FORMULA], typical for galactic disks, at a 13CO condensation in the southern part of the bar. We interpret these changes in terms of the relative importance of the contribution of a diffuse molecular component, characterized by unbound gas that has a moderate optical depth in the 12CO(1[FORMULA]0) transition. This component dominates the 12CO along the bar and is also likely to play an important role in the center of NGC 7479. In the center, the 12CO and the HCN intensity peaks coincide, while the 13CO peak is slightly offset. This can be explained in terms of high gas temperature at the 12CO peak position. Along the bar, the relation between the distribution of 12CO, 13CO, dust lanes and velocity gradient is complex. A southern 13CO condensation is found offset from the 12CO ridge that generally coincides with the most prominent dust lanes. It is possible that strong 13CO detections along the bar indicate quiescent conditions, downstream from the major bar shock. Still, these condensations are found close to high velocity gradients. In the central region, the velocity gradient is traced much more closely by 13CO than by 12CO.

Key words: galaxies: individual: NGC 7479 – galaxies: ISM – galaxies: starburst – radio lines: galaxies

Send offprint requests to: S. Hüttemeister (huette@astro.uni-bonn.de)

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: December 5, 2000