Deriving a multivariate aCO conversion function using the [C II]/CO (1-0) ratio and its application to molecular gas scaling relations

G. Accurso, A. Saintonge, B. Catinella, L. Cortese, R. Dave, S. H. Dunsheath, R. Genzel, J. Gracia-Carpio, T. M. Heckman, Jimmy, C. Kramer, Cheng Li, K. Lutz, D. Schiminovich, K. Schuster, A. Sternberg, E. Sturm, L. J. Tacconi, K. V. Tran, J. Wang

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133 Scopus citations


We present Herschel PACS observations of the [C II] 158 μm emission line in a sample of 24 intermediate mass (9 < log M∗/M < 10) and low metallicity (0.4 < Z/Z < 1.0) galaxies from the xCOLD GASS survey. In combination with IRAM CO (1-0) measurements, we establish scaling relations between integrated and molecular region L[C II]/LCO (1 0) ratios as a function of integrated galaxy properties. A Bayesian analysis reveals that only two parameters, metallicity and offset from the main sequence, (MS), are needed to quantify variations in the luminosity ratio; metallicity describes the total dust content available to shield CO from UV radiation, while (MS) describes the strength of this radiation field. We connect the L[C II]/LCO (1 0) ratio to the CO-to-H2 conversion factor and find a multivariate conversion function, which can be used up to z ∼ 2.5. This function depends primarily on metallicity, with a second-order dependence on (MS). We apply this to the full xCOLD GASS and PHIBSS1 surveys and investigate molecular gas scaling relations. We find a flattening of the relation between gas mass fraction and stellar mass at log M∗ < 10.0. While the molecular gas depletion time varies with sSFR, it is mostly independent of mass, indicating that the low LCO/SFR ratios long observed in low-mass galaxies are entirely due to photodissociation of CO and not to an enhanced star formation efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4750-4766
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Galaxies: ISM
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: fundamental parameters
  • Radio lines: galaxies
  • Surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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