The MALATANG survey: dense gas and star formation from high-transition HCN and HCO+ maps of NGC 253

Xue-Jian Jiang*, Thomas R. Greve, Yu Gao, Zhi-Yu Zhang, Qinghua Tan, Richard de Grijs, Luis C. Ho, Michał J. Michałowski, Malcolm J. Currie, Christine D. Wilson, Elias Brinks, Yiping Ao, Yinghe Zhao, Jinhua He, Nanase Harada, Chentao Yang, Qian Jiao, Aeree Chung, Bumhyun Lee, Matthew W. L. SmithDaizhong Liu, Satoki Matsushita, Yong Shi, Masatoshi Imanishi, Mark G. Rawlings, Ming Zhu, David Eden, Timothy A. Davis, Xiaohu Li

*Corresponding author for this work

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    To study the high-transition dense-gas tracers and their relationships to the star formation of the inner ∼2 kpc circumnuclear region of NGC 253, we present HCN J = 4−3 and HCO+ J = 4−3 maps obtained with the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope. Using the spatially resolved data, we compute the concentration indices r90/r50 for the different tracers. HCN and HCO+ 4-3 emission features tend to be centrally concentrated, which is in contrast to the shallower distribution of CO 1-0 and the stellar component. The dense-gas fraction (fdense, traced by the velocity-integrated-intensity ratios of HCN/CO and HCO+/CO) and the ratio R31 (CO 3-2/1-0) decline towards larger galactocentric distances, but increase with higher star formation rate surface density. The radial variation and the large scatter of fdense and R31 imply distinct physical conditions in different regions of the galactic disc. The relationships of fdense versus Σstellar, and SFEdense versus Σstellar are explored. SFEdense increases with higher Σstellar in this galaxy, which is inconsistent with previous work that used HCN 1-0 data. This implies that existing stellar components might have different effects on the high-J HCN and HCO+ than their low-J emission. We also find that SFEdense seems to be decreasing with higher fdense which is consistent with previous works, and it suggests that the ability of the dense gas to form stars diminishes when the average density of the gas increases. This is expected in a scenario where only the regions with high-density contrast collapse and form stars.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1276-1296
    Number of pages21
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020

    Bibliographical note

    This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 494, Issue 1, May 2020, Pages 1276–1296, Copyright 2020 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


    • Galaxies: individual: NGC 253
    • Galaxies: ISM
    • Galaxies: star formation
    • ISM: molecules
    • Submillimetre: ISM


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