Probing the Full CO Spectral Line Energy Distribution (SLED) in the Nuclear Region of a Quasar-starburst System at z = 6.003

Jianan Li, Ran Wang, Dominik Riechers, Fabian Walter, Roberto Decarli, Bram P. Venamans, Roberto Neri, Yali Shao, Xiaohui Fan, Yu Gao, Chris L. Carilli, Alain Omont, Pierre Cox, Karl M. Menten, Jeff Wagg, Frank Bertoldi, Desika Narayanan

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28 Scopus citations


We report Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array observations of CO(8-7), (9-8), H 2&rm;O(2&mathrm; 0,2-1 1,1, and OH-+(1 1-0 1) and NOrthern Extended Millimeter Array observations of CO(5-4), (6-5), (12-11), and (13-12) toward the z = 6.003 quasar SDSS J231038.88+185519.7, aiming to probe the physical conditions of the molecular gas content of this source. We present the best sampled CO spectral line energy distribution (SLED) at z = 6.003, and analyzed it with the radiative transfer code MOLPOP-CEP. Fitting the CO SLED to a one-component model indicates a kinetic temperature T kin = 228 K, molecular gas density ) = 4.75, and CO column density ; although, a two-component model better fits the data. In either case, the CO SLED is dominated by a "warm" and "dense" component. Compared to samples of local (Ultra) Luminous Infrared Galaxies, starburst galaxies, and high-redshift submillimeter galaxies, J2310+1855 exhibits higher CO excitation at (J ≥ 8), like other high-redshift quasars. The high CO excitation, together with the enhanced, , and ratios, suggests that besides the UV radiation from young massive stars, other mechanisms such as shocks, cosmic-rays, and X-rays might also be responsible for the heating and ionization of the molecular gas. In the nuclear region probed by the molecular emissions lines, any of these mechanisms might be present due to the powerful quasar and the starburst activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number162
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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