Molecular gas and star formation in local early-type galaxies

M. Bureau, T.A. Davis, M. Cappellari, R.L. Davies, N. Scott, K. Alatalo, L. Blitz, A.F. Crocker, L.M. Young, F. Combes, M. Bois, E. Emsellem, P.-Y. Lablanche, F. Bournaud, P.T. De Zeeuw, D. Krajnović, H. Kuntschner, P.-A. Duc, S. Khochfar, R.M. McDermidR. Morganti, T. Oosterloo, P. Serra, T. Naab, M. Sarzi, A. Weijmans

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    The molecular gas content of local early-type galaxies is constrained and discussed in relation to their evolution. First, as part of the ATLAS survey, we present the first complete, large (260 objects), volume-limited single-dish survey of CO in normal local early-type galaxies. We find a surprisingly high detection rate of 22%, independent of luminosity and at best weakly dependent on environment. Second, the extent of the molecular gas is constrained with CO synthesis imaging, and a variety of morphologies is revealed. The kinematics of the molecular gas and stars are often misaligned, implying an external gas origin in over a third of the systems, although this behaviour is drastically diffferent between field and cluster environments. Third, many objects appear to be in the process of forming regular kpc-size decoupled disks, and a star formation sequence can be sketched by piecing together multi-wavelength information on the molecular gas, current star formation, and young stars. Last, early-type galaxies do not seem to systematically obey all our usual prejudices regarding star formation, following the standard Schmidt-Kennicutt law but not the far infrared-radio correlation. This may suggest a greater diversity in star formation processes than observed in disk galaxies. Using multiple molecular tracers, we are thus starting to probe the physical conditions of the cold gas in early-types.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)55-58
    Number of pages4
    JournalProceedings of the International Astronomical Union
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010


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