Highly turbulent gas on GMC scales in NGC 3256, the nearest luminous infrared galaxy Academic Article uri icon

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  • ABSTRACT We present the highest resolution CO (2–1) observations obtained to date (0.25 arcsec) of NGC 3256 and use them to determine the detailed properties of the molecular interstellar medium in the central 6 kpc of this merger. Distributions of physical quantities are reported from pixel-by-pixel measurements at 55 and 120 pc scales and compared to disc galaxies observed by PHANGS-ALMA (Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS with Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array). Mass surface densities range from 8 to 5500 M⊙ pc−2 and velocity dispersions from 10 to 200 km s−1. Peak brightness temperatures as large as 37 K are measured, indicating the gas in NGC 3256 may be hotter than all regions in nearby disc galaxies measured by PHANGS-ALMA. Brightness temperatures even surpass those in the overlap region of NGC 4038/9 at the same scales. The majority of the gas appears unbound with median virial parameters of 7–19, although external pressure may bind some of the gas. High internal turbulent pressures of 105–1010 K cm−3 are found. Given the lack of significant trends in surface density, brightness temperature, and velocity dispersion with physical scale we argue the molecular gas is made up of a smooth medium down to 55 pc scales, unlike the more structured medium found in the PHANGS-ALMA disc galaxies.


  • Brunetti, Nathan
  • Wilson, Christine D
  • Sliwa, Kazimierz
  • Schinnerer, Eva
  • Aalto, Susanne
  • Peck, Alison B

publication date

  • December 10, 2020