Luminous Infrared Galaxies with the Submillimeter Array. V. Molecular Gas in Intermediate to Late-stage Mergers Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Abstract We present new high-resolution ALMA (13CO J = 1−0 and J = 2−1) and CARMA (12CO and 13CO J = 1−0) observations of two luminous infrared galaxies (LIRGs), Arp 55 and NGC 2623. The new data are complementary to published and archival submillimeter array observations of 12CO J = 2−1 and J = 3−2. We perform a Bayesian likelihood non-local thermodynamic equilibrium analysis to constrain the molecular gas physical conditions such as temperature, column, and volume densities and the [12CO]/[13CO] abundance ratio. For Arp 55, an early/intermediate-staged merger, the line measurements are consistent with cold (∼10–20 K), dense (> cm−3) molecular gas. For NGC 2623, the molecular gas is warmer (∼110 K) and less dense ( cm−3). Because Arp 55 is an early/intermediate stage merger, while NGC 2623 is a merger remnant, the difference in physical conditions may be an indicator of merger stage. Comparing the temperature and volume density of several LIRGs shows that the molecular gas, averaged over ∼kiloparsec scales, of advanced mergers is in general warmer and less dense than early/intermediate stage mergers. We also find that the [12CO]/[13CO] abundance ratio of NGC 2623 is unusually high (>250) when compared with the Milky Way; however, it follows a trend seen with other LIRGs in the literature. This high [12CO]/[13CO] value is very likely due to stellar nucleosynthesis enrichment of the interstellar medium. On the other hand, Arp 55 has a more Galactic [12CO]/[13CO] value with the most probable [12CO]/[13CO] value being 20–30. We measure the CO-to-H2 conversion factor, , to be ∼0.1 and ∼0.7 (3 × 10−4/ ) M (K km s−1 pc2)−1 for Arp 55 and NGC 2623, respectively. Because Arp 55 is an early/intermediate-stage merger, this suggests that the transition from a Galactic conversion factor to a LIRG value happens at an even earlier merger stage.


  • Sliwa, Kazimierz
  • Wilson, Christine D
  • Matsushita, Satoki
  • Peck, Alison B
  • Petitpas, Glen R
  • Saito, Toshiki
  • Yun, Min

publication date

  • May 1, 2017