CO (J = 7→6) Observations of NGC 253: Cosmic-Ray-heated Warm Molecular GasThe Astrophysical Journal (2003)
We report observations of the CO J ¼ 7 ! 6 transition toward the starburst nucleus of NGC 253. This is the highest excitation CO measurement in this source to date and allows an estimate of the molecular gas excitation conditions. Comparison of the CO line intensities with a large velocity gradient, escape probability model indicates that the bulk of the 2ð Þ 5 107 M of molecular gas in the central 180 pc is highly excited. A model with T 120 K, nH2 4:5 104 cm3, is consistent with the observed CO intensities, as well as the rotational H2 lines observed with the Infrared Space Observatory. The inferred mass of warm, dense molecular gas is 10–30 times the atomic gas mass as traced through its [C ii] and [O i] line emission. This large mass ratio is inconsistent with photodissociation region models in which the gas is heated by far-UV starlight. It is also not likely that the gas is heated by shocks in outflows or cloud-cloud collisions. We conclude that the best mechanism for heating the gas is cosmic rays, which provide a natural means of uniformly heating the full volume of molecular clouds. With the tremendous supernova rate in the nucleus of NGC 253, the cosmic-ray heating rate is at least 800 times greater than that in the Galaxy, more than sufficient to match the cooling observed in the CO lines.
- NGC 253,
Publication DateApril 1, 2003
Citation InformationC. M. Bradford, T. Nikola, G. J. Stacey, A. D. Bolatto, et al.. "CO (J = 7→6) Observations of NGC 253: Cosmic-Ray-heated Warm Molecular Gas" The Astrophysical Journal Vol. 586 Iss. 2 (2003) p. 891 - 901
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/sarah_higdon/35/