The properties of massive, dense clumps: Mapping surveys of HCN and CS

Jingwen Wu, Neal J. Evans, Yancy L. Shirley, Claudia Knez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

183 Scopus citations


We have mapped over 50 massive, dense clumps with four dense gas tracers: HCN J = 1-0 and 3-2; and CS J = 2-1 and 7-6 transitions. Spectral lines of optically thin H13CN 3-2 and C34S 5-4 were also obtained toward the map centers. These maps usually demonstrate single well-peaked distributions at our resolution, even with higher J transitions. The size, virial mass, surface density, and mean volume density within a well-defined angular size (FWHM) were calculated from the contour maps for each transition. We found that transitions with higher effective density usually trace the more compact, inner part of the clumps but have larger linewidths, leading to an inverse linewidth-size relation using different tracers. The mean surface densities are 0.29, 0.33, 0.78, 1.09gcm-2 within FWHM contours of CS 2-1, HCN 1-0, HCN 3-2, and CS 7-6, respectively. We find no correlation of L IR with surface density and a possible inverse correlation with mean volume density, contrary to some theoretical expectations. Molecular line luminosities L′mol were derived for each transition. We see no evidence in the data for the relation between L′mol and mean density posited by modelers. The correlation between L′mol and the virial mass is roughly linear for each dense gas tracer. No obvious correlation was found between the line luminosity ratio and infrared luminosity, bolometric temperature, or the L IR/M Vir ratio. A nearly linear correlation was found between the infrared luminosity and the line luminosity of all dense gas tracers for these massive, dense clumps, with a lower cutoff in luminosity at LIR = 104.5 L . The L IR-L′HCN1-0 correlation agrees well with the one found in galaxies. These correlations indicate a constant star formation rate per unit mass from the scale of dense clumps to that of distant galaxies when the mass is measured for dense gas. These results support the suggestion that starburst galaxies may be understood as having a large fraction of gas in dense clumps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-357
Number of pages45
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010


  • Galaxies: formation
  • ISM: clouds
  • ISM: molecules
  • Stars: formation
  • Submillimeter: ISM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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