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Astron. Astrophys. 330, 37-56 (1998)

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Molecular gas in galaxies of Hickson compact groups

S. Leon 1, F. Combes 1 and T.K. Menon 2

1 DEMIRM, Observatoire de Paris, 61 Av. de l'Observatoire, F-75 014 Paris, France
2 Department of Physics & Astronomy, Univ. of British Columbia, 2219 Main Mall, Vancouver B.C., V6T 1Z4, Canada

Received 24 April 1997 / Accepted 15 September 1997


We have observed 70 galaxies belonging to 45 Hickson compact groups in the 12 CO(1 [FORMULA] 0) and 12 CO(2 [FORMULA] 1) lines, in order to determine their molecular content. We detected 57 galaxies, corresponding to a detection rate of 81%. We compare the gas content relative to blue and [FORMULA] luminosities of galaxies in compact groups with respect to other samples in the literature, including various environments and morphological types. We find that there is some hint of enhanced [FORMULA] / [FORMULA] and [FORMULA] / [FORMULA] ratios in the galaxies from compact group with respect to our control sample, especially for the most compact groups, suggesting that tidal interactions can drive the gas component inwards, by removing its angular momentum, and concentrating it in the dense central regions, where it is easily detected. The molecular gas content in compact group galaxies is similar to that in pairs and starburst samples. However, the total [FORMULA] luminosity of HCGs is quite similar to that of the control sample, and therefore the star formation efficiency appears lower than in the control galaxies. However this assumes that the FIR spatial distributions are similar in both samples which is not the case at radio frequencies. Higher spatial resolution FIR data are needed to make a valid comparison. Given their short dynamical friction time-scale, it is possible that some of these systems are in the final stage before merging, leading to ultra-luminous starburst phases. We also find for all galaxy samples that the [FORMULA] content (derived from CO luminosity and normalised to blue luminosity) is strongly correlated to the [FORMULA] luminosity, while the total gas content ([FORMULA] + [FORMULA]) is not.

Key words: galaxies: ISM – galaxies: interactions – galaxies: starburst – galaxies: statistics – radio lines: galaxies

Send offprint requests to: S. Leon

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: January 8, 1998