Evolution of the ISM in luminous infrared galaxies
ASTRON, Oude Hoogeveensedijk 4, 7991 PD Dwingeloo, The Netherlands e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, PO Box 9513, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
3 Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, PO Box 800, 9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands
Accepted: 7 April 2010
Aims. Molecules that trace the high-density regions of the interstellar medium may be used to evaluate the changing physical and chemical environment during the ongoing nuclear activity in (ultra-)luminous infrared galaxies (ULIRGs).
Methods. The changing ratios of the HCN (1-0), HNC (1-0), HCO+ (1-0), CN (1-0) and CN (2-1), and CS (3-2) transitions were compared with the HCN (1-0)/CO (1-0) ratio, which is proposed to represent the progression time scale of the starburst. These diagnostic diagrams were interpreted using the results of theoretical modeling with a large physical and chemical network to describe the state of the nuclear ISM in the evolving galaxies.
Results. Systematic changes are seen in the line ratios as the sources evolve from early stage for the nuclear starburst (ULIRGs) to later stages. These changes result from changing environmental conditions and particularly from the lowering of the average density of the medium. A temperature rise due to mechanical heating of the medium by feedback explains the lowering of the ratios at later evolutionary stages. Infrared pumping may affect the CN and HNC line ratios during early evolutionary stages.
Conclusions. Molecular transitions display a behavior that relates to changes of the environment during an evolving nuclear starburst. Molecular properties may be used to designate the evolutionary stage of the nuclear starburst. The HCN(1-0)/CO(1-0) and HCO+(1-0)/HCN(1-0) ratios serve as indicators of the time evolution of the outburst.
Key words: infrared: galaxies / ISM: molecules / radio lines: galaxies / galaxies: active / galaxies: starburst
© ESO, 2010