Volume 577, May 2015
|Number of page(s)||19|
|Published online||29 April 2015|
CO excitation of normal star-forming galaxies out to z = 1.5 as regulated by the properties of their interstellar medium
1 CEA Saclay, Laboratoire AIM-CNRS-Université Paris Diderot, Irfu/SAp, Orme des Merisiers, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
2 Universität Wien, Institut für Astrophysik, Türkenschanzstrasse 17, 1180 Vienna, Austria
3 Purple Mountain Observatory & Key Laboratory for Radio Astronomy, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 210008 Nanjing, PR China
4 Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 19A Yuquan Road, Shijingshan District, 10049 Beijing, PR China
5 Núcleo de Astronomía, Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad Diego Portales, Av. Ejército Libertador 441, Santiago, Chile
6 Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
7 Department of Astronomy, Cornell University, 220 Space Sciences Building, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
8 Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Keble Road, Oxford OX1 3RH, UK
9 Astronomy Center, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9QH, UK
10 European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 2, 85748 Garching, Germany
11 National Radio Astronomy Observatory, PO Box O, Socorro, NM 87801, USA
12 National Optical Astronomical Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA
13 School of Physics, Korea Institute for Advanced Study, Heogiro 85, 130-722 Seoul, Republic of Korea
14 IRAM – Institut de RadioAstronomie Millimétrique, 300 rue de la Piscine, 38406 Saint-Martin-d’ Hères, France
15 Institute for Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Applications and Remote Sensing, National Observatory of Athens, 15236 Athens, Greece
Received: 23 September 2014
Accepted: 17 January 2015
We investigate the CO excitation of normal (near-IR selected BzK) star-forming (SF) disk galaxies at z = 1.5 using IRAM Plateau de Bure observations of the CO[2–1], CO[3–2], and CO[5–4] transitions for four galaxies, including VLA observations of CO[1–0] for three of them, with the aim of constraining the average state of H2 gas. By exploiting previous knowledge of the velocity range, spatial extent, and size of the CO emission, we measure reliable line fluxes with a signal-to-noise ratio >4–7 for individual transitions. While the average CO spectral line energy distribution (SLED) has a subthermal excitation similar to the Milky Way (MW) up to CO[3–2], we show that the average CO[5–4] emission is four times stronger than assuming MW excitation. This demonstrates that there is an additional component of more excited, denser, and possibly warmer molecular gas. The ratio of CO[5–4] to lower-J CO emission is lower than in local (ultra-)luminous infrared galaxies (ULIRGs) and high-redshift starbursting submillimeter galaxies, however, and appears to be closely correlated with the average intensity of the radiation field ⟨ U ⟩ and with the star formation surface density, but not with the star formation efficiency. The luminosity of the CO[5–4] transition is found to be linearly correlated with the bolometric infrared luminosity over four orders of magnitudes. For this transition, z = 1.5 BzK galaxies follow the same linear trend as local spirals and (U)LIRGs and high-redshift star-bursting submillimeter galaxies. The CO[5–4] luminosity is thus empirically related to the dense gas and might be a more convenient way to probe it than standard high-density tracers that are much fainter than CO. We see excitation variations among our sample galaxies that can be linked to their evolutionary state and clumpiness in optical rest-frame images. In one galaxy we see spatially resolved excitation variations, where the more highly excited part of the galaxy corresponds to the location of massive SF clumps. This provides support to models that suggest that giant clumps are the main source of the high-excitation CO emission in high-redshift disk-like galaxies.
Key words: galaxies: evolution / galaxies: high-redshift / galaxies: starburst / galaxies: star formation / submillimeter: galaxies
© ESO, 2015
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