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Astron. Astrophys. 363, 917-925 (2000)

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The bright 175 µm knots of the Andromeda galaxy *

L. Schmidtobreick 1,2, M. Haas 1 and D. Lemke 1

1 Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
2 Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Vicolo dell'Osservatorio 5, 35122 Padova, Italy

Received 8 March 2000 / Accepted 7 September 2000


Discrete far-infrared (FIR) sources of M 31 are identified in the ISO 175 µm map and characterized via their FIR colours, luminosities and masses in order to reveal the nature of these knots. With our spatial resolution of 300 pc at M 31's distance, the FIR knots are clearly seen as extended objects with a mean size of about 800 pc. Since this appears too large for a single dust cloud, the knots might represent several clouds in chance projection or giant cloud complexes.

The 175 µm data point provides crucial information in addition to the IRAS 60 and 100 µm data: At least two [FORMULA]-2 modified Planckian curves with temperatures of about 40 K and 15-21 K are necessary to fit the spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of the knots. Though they show a continuous range of temperatures, we distinguish between three types of knots - cold, medium, warm - in order to recognize trends. Comparisons with radio and optical tracers show that - statistically - the cold knots can be identified well with CO and H I radio sources and thus might represent mainly molecular cloud complexes. The warm knots coincide with known H II regions and supernova remnants. The medium knots might contain a balanced mixture of molecular clouds and H II regions. The cold knots have a considerable luminosity and their discovery raises the question of hidden star formation.

Though the optically dark dust lanes in M 31 generally match the FIR ring, surprisingly we do not find a convincing coincidence of our knots with individual dark clouds, which might therefore show mainly foreground dust features.

The ratio of FIR luminosity to dust mass, [FORMULA], is used to measure the energy content of the dust. It can originate from both the interstellar radiation field and still embedded stars recently formed. The knots have a clear [FORMULA] excess over the rest of M31, providing evidence that they are powered by star formation in addition to the interstellar radiation field. Furthermore, the [FORMULA] ratio of the warm knots is comparable to that of Galactic H II regions like M 42 or NGC 2024, while that of the cold knots still reaches values like in the average Orion complex. Thus both the warm and even the cold knots are interpreted as containing large cloud complexes with considerable ongoing star formation.

Key words: infrared: galaxies – galaxies: individual: M31 – galaxies: photometry – ISM: dust, extinction – ISM: H ii regions

* Based on observations with ISO, an ESA project with instruments funded by ESA member States (especially the PI countries: France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom) and with the participation of ISAS and NASA.

Send offprint requests to: L. Schmidtobreick (linda@pd.astro.it)

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: December 5, 2000