A CO J = 3-2 map of M51 with HARP-B: Radial properties of the spiral structure

C. Vlahakis, P. Van Der Werf, F. P. Israel, R. P.J. Tilanus

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28 Scopus citations


We present the first complete CO J = 3-2 map of the nearby grand-design spiral galaxy M51 (NGC 5194), at a spatial resolution of ∼600 pc, obtained with the HARP-B instrument on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope. The map covers the entire optical galaxy disc and out to the companion NGC 5195, with CO J = 3-2 emission detected over an area of ∼9 arcmin × 6 arcmin (∼21 × 14kpc). We describe the CO J = 3-2 integrated intensity map and combine our results with maps of CO J = 2-1, CO J = 1-0 and other data from the literature to investigate the variation of the molecular gas, atomic gas and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) properties of M51 as a function of distance along the spiral structure on sub-kiloparsec scales. We find that for the CO J = 3-2 and CO J = 2-1 transitions, there is a clear difference between the variation of arm and interarm emission with galactocentric radius, with the interarm emission relatively constant with radius and the contrast between arm and interarm emission decreasing with radius. For the CO J=1-0 line and Hi emission, the variation with radius shows a similar trend for the arm and interarm regions, and the arm-interarm contrast appears relatively constant with radius. We investigate the variation of CO line ratios (J = 3-2/2-1, J = 2-1/1-0 and J = 3-2/1-0) as a function of distance along the spiral structure. Line ratios are consistent with the range of typical values for other nearby galaxies in the literature. The highest CO J = 3-2/J = 2-1 line ratios are found in the central ∼1 kiloparsec and in the spiral arms and the lowest line ratios in the interarm regions. We find no clear evidence of a trend with radius for the spiral arms, but for the interarm regions there appears to be a trend for all CO line ratios to increase with radius. We find a strong relationship between the ratio of CO J = 3-2 intensity to stellar-continuum-subtracted 8 μm PAH surface brightness and the CO J = 3-2 intensity that appears to vary with radius.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1837-1861
Number of pages25
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 11 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: ISM-galaxies: Spiral
  • Galaxies: Individual: M51

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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