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Published January 1, 2012 | Published
Journal Article Open

Resolved Measurements of X_(CO) in NGC 6946


We present the largest sample to date of giant molecular clouds (GMCs) in a substantial spiral galaxy other than the Milky Way. We map the distribution of molecular gas with high resolution and image fidelity within the central 5 kpc of the spiral galaxy NGC 6946 in the ^(12)CO (J = 1-0) transition. By combining observations from the Nobeyama Radio Observatory 45 m single dish telescope and the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter Astronomy interferometer, we are able to obtain high image fidelity and accurate measurements of L_CO compared with previous purely interferometric studies. We resolve individual GMCs, measure their luminosities and virial masses, and derive X CO—the conversion factor from CO measurements to H2 masses—within individual clouds. On average, we find that X_CO = 1.2 × 10^(20) cm^(–2) (K km s^(–1))^(–1), which is consistent within our uncertainties with previously derived Galactic values as well as the value we derive for Galactic GMCs above our mass sensitivity limit. The properties of our GMCs are largely consistent with the trends observed for molecular clouds detected in the Milky Way disk, with the exception of six clouds detected within ~400 pc of the center of NGC 6946, which exhibit larger velocity dispersions for a given size and luminosity, as has also been observed at the Galactic center.

Additional Information

© 2012 American Astronomical Society. Received 2011 July 26; accepted 2011 September 23; published 2011 December 13. The authors thank the anonymous referee for the suggestions which improved the discussion of this paper. 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.

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