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Journal Article

Molecular gas properties and CO-to-H2 conversion factors in the central kiloparsec of NGC 3351


Schruba,  Andreas
Infrared and Submillimeter Astronomy, MPI for Extraterrestrial Physics, Max Planck Society;


Liu,  Daizhong
MPI for Extraterrestrial Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Teng, Y.-H., Sandstrom, K. M., Sun, J., Leroy, A. K., Johnson, L. C., Bolatto, A. D., et al. (2022). Molecular gas properties and CO-to-H2 conversion factors in the central kiloparsec of NGC 3351. The Astrophysical Journal, 925(1): 71. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ac382f.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-F035-C
The CO-to-H2 conversion factor (α CO) is critical to studying molecular gas and star formation in galaxies. The value of α CO has been found to vary within and between galaxies, but the specific environmental conditions that cause these variations are not fully understood. Previous observations on ~kiloparsec scales revealed low values of α CO in the centers of some barred spiral galaxies, including NGC 3351. We present new Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array Band 3, 6, and 7 observations of 12CO, 13CO, and C18O lines on 100 pc scales in the inner ~2 kpc of NGC 3351. Using multiline radiative transfer modeling and a Bayesian likelihood analysis, we infer the H2 density, kinetic temperature, CO column density per line width, and CO isotopologue abundances on a pixel-by-pixel basis. Our modeling implies the existence of a dominant gas component with a density of 2-3 × 103 cm-3 in the central ~1 kpc and a high temperature of 30-60 K near the nucleus and near the contact points that connect to the bar-driven inflows. Assuming a CO/H2 abundance of 3 × 10-4, our analysis yields α CO ~ 0.5-2.0 M (K km s-1 pc2)-1 with a decreasing trend with galactocentric radius in the central ~1 kpc. The inflows show a substantially lower α CO ≲ 0.1 M (K km s-1 pc2)-1, likely due to lower optical depths caused by turbulence or shear in the inflows. Over the whole region, this gives an intensity-weighted α CO of ~1.5 M (K km s-1 pc2)-1, which is similar to previous dust-modeling-based results at kiloparsec scales. This suggests that low α CO on kiloparsec scales in the centers of some barred galaxies may be due to the contribution of low-optical-depth CO emission in bar-driven inflows.