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Deep ALMA imaging of the merger NGC 1614: Is CO tracing a massive inflow of non-starforming gas?

König, S. and Aalto, S. and Muller, S. and Gallagher, J. S., III and Beswick, R. J. and Xu, C. K. and Evans, A. (2016) Deep ALMA imaging of the merger NGC 1614: Is CO tracing a massive inflow of non-starforming gas? Astronomy and Astrophysics, 594 . Art. No. A70. ISSN 0004-6361. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201628535.

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Aims. Observations of the molecular gas over scales of ~0.5 to several kpc provide crucial information on how molecular gas moves through galaxies, especially in mergers and interacting systems, where it ultimately reaches the galaxy center, accumulates, and feeds nuclear activity. Studying the processes involved in the gas transport is one of the important steps forward to understand galaxy evolution. Methods. ^(12)CO, ^(13)CO, and C^(18)O 1−0 high-sensitivity ALMA observations (~4′′ × 2′′) were used to assess the properties of the large-scale molecular gas reservoir and its connection to the circumnuclear molecular ring in the merger NGC 1614. Specifically, the role of excitation and abundances were studied in this context. We also observed the molecular gas high-density tracers CN and CS. Results. The spatial distributions of the detected ^(12)CO 1−0 and ^(13)CO 1−0 emission show significant differences. ^(12)CO traces the large-scale molecular gas reservoir, which is associated with a dust lane that harbors infalling gas, and extends into the southern tidal tails. ^(13)CO emission is for the first time detected in the large-scale dust lane. In contrast to ^(12)CO, its line emission peaks between the dust lane and the circumnuclear molecular ring. A ^(12)CO-to-^(13)CO 1−0 intensity ratio map shows high values in the ring region (~30) that are typical for the centers of luminous galaxy mergers and even more extreme values in the dust lane (>45). Surprisingly, we do not detect C^(18)O emission in NGC 1614, but we do observe gas emitting the high-density tracers CN and CS. Conclusions. We find that the ^(12)CO-to-^(13)CO 1−0 line ratio in NGC 1614 changes from >45 in the 2 kpc dust lane to ~30 in the starburst nucleus. This drop in ratio with decreasing radius is consistent with the molecular gas in the dust lane being kept in a diffuse, unbound state while it is being funneled toward the nucleus. This also explains why there are no (or very faint) signs of star formation in the dust lane, despite its high ^(12)CO luminosity. In the inner 1.5 kpc, the gas is compressed into denser and most likely self-gravitating clouds (traced by CN and CS emission), allowing it to power the intense central starburst. We find a high ^(16)O-to-^(18)O abundance ratio in the starburst region (≥900), typical of quiescent disk gas. This is surprising because by now, the starburst is expected to have enriched the nuclear interstellar medium in ^(18)O relative to ^(16)O. We suggest that the massive inflow of gas may be partially responsible for the low ^(18)O/^(16)O abundance since it will dilute the starburst enrichment with unprocessed gas from greater radial distances. The ^(12)CO-to-^(13)CO abundance of >90 we infer from the line ratio is consistent with this scenario. It suggests that the nucleus of NGC 1614 is in a transient phase of its evolution where the starburst and the nuclear growth is still being fuelled by returning gas from the minor merger event.

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Gallagher, J. S., III0000-0001-8608-0408
Xu, C. K.0000-0002-1588-6700
Evans, A.0000-0003-2638-1334
Additional Information:© ESO, 2016. Received 16 March 2016 / Accepted 7 July 2016. This paper makes use of the following ALMA data: ADS/JAO.ALMA#2013.1.00991.S. ALMA is a partnership of ESO (representing its member states), NSF (USA) and NINS (Japan), together with NRC (Canada), NSC and ASIAA (Taiwan), and KASI (Republic of Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The Joint ALMA Observatory is operated by ESO, AUI/NRAO and NAOJ. This research has made use of the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED) which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Group:Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:galaxies: evolution / galaxies: individual: NGC 1614 / galaxies: starburst / galaxies: active / radio lines: galaxies / ISM: molecules
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170216-124839930
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Official Citation:Deep ALMA imaging of the merger NGC 1614 - Is CO tracing a massive inflow of non-starforming gas? S. König, S. Aalto, S. Muller, J. S. Gallagher, R. J. Beswick, C. K. Xu and A. Evans A&A, 594 (2016) A70 DOI:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:74381
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:16 Feb 2017 21:50
Last Modified:11 Nov 2021 05:26

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