EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 497, Number 2, April II 2009
Page(s) 351 - 358
Section Extragalactic astronomy
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200811032
Published online 18 February 2009
A&A 497, 351-358 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200811032

Ionised carbon and galaxy activity

S. J. Curran

School of Physics, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052, Australia
    e-mail: sjc@phys.unsw.edu.au

Received 25 September 2008 / Accepted 3 February 2009

We investigate the possibility that the decrease in the relative luminosity of the 158 $\mu$m [C II] line with the far-infrared luminosity in extragalactic sources stems from a stronger contribution from the heated dust emission in the more distant sources. Because these surveys are flux limited in nature, the luminosity of the detected objects increases with distance. However, the [C II] luminosity does not climb as steeply as that of the far-infrared, giving the decline in the $L_{\rm
[CII]}/L_{\rm FIR}$ ratio with $L_{\rm FIR}$. Investigating this further, we find that the [C II] luminosity exhibits similar drops as measured against the carbon monoxide and radio continuum luminosities. The former may indicate that at higher luminosities a larger fraction of the carbon is locked up in the form of molecules and/or that the CO line radiation also contributes to the cooling, done mainly by the [C II] line at low luminosities. The latter hints at increased activity in these galaxies at greater distances, so we suggest that, in addition to an underlying heating of the dust by a stellar population, there is also heating of the embedded dusty torus by the ultra-violet emission from the active nucleus, resulting in an excess in the far-infrared emission from the more luminous objects.

Key words: galaxies: evolution -- galaxies: ISM -- galaxies: high-redshift -- quasars: emission lines -- cosmonology: observations

© ESO 2009