Thursday October 12th, 2012

Dust temperature and CO-to-H2 conversion factor variations in the SFR-M* plane

B. Magnelli, A. Saintonge, D. Lutz, L. J. Tacconi, S. Berta, F. Bournaud, V. Charmandaris, H. Dannerbauer, D. Elbaz, N. M. Förster-Schreiber, J. Graciá-Carpio, R. Ivison, R. Maiolino, R. Nordon, P. Popesso, G. Rodighiero, P. Santini, S. Wuyts
(Submitted on 9 Oct 2012 (v1), last revised 11 Oct 2012 (this version, v2))

Deep Herschel imaging and 12CO(2-1) line luminosities from the IRAM PdBI are combined for a sample of 17 galaxies at z>1 from the GOODS-N field. The sample includes galaxies both on and above the main sequence (MS) traced by star-forming galaxies in the SFR-M* plane. The far-infrared data are used to derive dust masses, Mdust. Combined with an empirical prescription for the dependence of the gas-to-dust ratio on metallicity (GDR), the CO luminosities and Mdust values are used to derive for each galaxy the CO-to-H2 conversion factor, alpha_co. Like in the local Universe, the value of alpha_co is a factor of ~5 smaller in starbursts compared to normal star-forming galaxies (SFGs). We also uncover a relation between alpha_co and dust temperature (Tdust; alpha_co decreasing with increasing Tdust) as obtained from modified blackbody fits to the far-infrared data. While the absolute normalization of the alpha_co(Tdust) relation is uncertain, the global trend is robust against possible systematic biases in the determination of Mdust, GDR or metallicity. Although we cannot formally distinguish between a step and a smooth evolution of alpha_co with the dust temperature, we can conclude that in galaxies of near-solar metallicity, a critical value of Tdust=30K can be used to determine whether the appropriate alpha_co is closer to the starburst value (1.0 Msun(K kms pc^2)^-1, if Tdust>30K) or closer to the Galactic value (4.35 Msun (K kms pc^2)^-1, if Tdust<30K). This indicator has the great advantage of being less subjective than visual morphological classifications of mergers/SFGs, which can be difficult at high z because of the clumpy nature of SFGs. In the absence of far-infrared data, the offset of a galaxy from the main sequence (i.e., log[SSFR(galaxy)/SSFR_MS(M*,z)]) can be used to identify galaxies requiring the use of an alpha_co conversion factor lower than the Galactic value.

Comments: Accepted for publication in Astronomy and Astrophysics (A&A); 15 pages, 6 figures; V2: updated reference list
Subjects: Cosmology and Extragalactic Astrophysics (astro-ph.CO)
Cite as: arXiv:1210.2760 [astro-ph.CO]
(or arXiv:1210.2760v2 [astro-ph.CO] for this version)
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