Volume 406, Number 1, July IV 2003
|Page(s)||87 - 103|
|Published online||17 November 2003|
Molecular gas in the central regions of the latest-type spiral galaxies
Space Telescope Science Institute, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
2 Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC), Camino Bajo de Huetor 24, 18080 Granada, Spain e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
3 National Radio Astronomy Observatory, PO Box 0, Socorro, NM 87801, USA e-mail: email@example.com
Corresponding author: T. Böker, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 15 May 2003
Using the IRAM telescope, we have surveyed an unbiased sample of 47 nearby spiral galaxies of very late (Scd-Sm) Hubble-type for emission in the and lines. The sensitivity of our data (a few mK) allows detection of about 60% of our sample in at least one of the CO lines. The median detected mass is within the central few kpc, assuming a standard conversion factor. We use the measured line intensities to complement existing studies of the molecular gas content of spiral galaxies as a function of Hubble-type and to significantly improve the statistical significance of such studies at the late end of the spiral sequence. We find that the latest-type spirals closely follow the correlation between molecular gas content and galaxy luminosity established for earlier Hubble types. The molecular gas in late-type galaxies seems to be less centrally concentrated than in earlier types. We use Hubble Space Telescope optical images to correlate the molecular gas mass to the properties of the central galaxy disk and the compact star cluster that occupies the nucleus of most late-type spirals. There is no clear correlation between the luminosity of the nuclear star cluster and the molecular gas mass, although the CO detection rate is highest for the brightest clusters. It appears that the central surface brightness of the stellar disk is an important parameter for the amount of molecular gas at the galaxy center. Whether stellar bars play a critical role for the gas dynamics remains unclear, in part because of uncertainties in the morphological classifications of our sample.
Key words: galaxies: spiral / galaxies: ISM / galaxies: nuclei
© ESO, 2003
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