Molecular clouds in the center of M 81
Dipartimento di Astronomia, Università di Padova, Vicolo dell'Osservatorio 2, 35122 Padova, Italy e-mail: [viviana.casasola;giuseppe.galletta]@unipd.it
2 LERMA, Observatoire de Paris, 61 avenue de l'Observatoire, 75014 Paris, France e-mail: email@example.com
3 INAF, Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Vicolo dell'Osservatorio 5, 35122 Padova, Italy e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 18 July 2007
We investigate the molecular gas content and the excitation and fragmentation properties in the central region of the spiral galaxy Messier 81 in both the 12CO(1–0) and 12CO(2–1) transitions. We have recently observed the two transitions of CO in the M 81 center with A, B, and HERA receivers of the IRAM 30-m telescope. We find no CO emission in the inner ~300 pc and a weak molecular gas clump structure at a distance of around 460 pc from the nucleus. Observations of the first two CO transitions allowed us to compute the line ratio, and the average ratio is 0.68 for the M 81 center. This low value, atypical both of the galactic nuclei of spiral galaxies and of interacting systems, is probably associated to diffuse gas with molecular hydrogen density that is not high enough to excite the CO molecules. After analyzing the clumping properties of the molecular gas in detail, we identify very massive giant molecular associations (GMAs) in CO(2–1) emission with masses of ~105 and diameters of ~250 pc. The deduced N(H2)/ICO ratio for the individually resolved GMAs, assumed to be virialized, is a factor of ~15 higher than the standard Galactic value, showing – as suspected – that the X ratio departs significantly from the mean for galaxies with an unusual physics of the molecular gas.
Key words: galaxies: ISM / galaxies: spiral / ISM: clouds / ISM: molecules
© ESO, 2007