Resolving Giant Molecular Clouds in NGC 300: A First Look with the Submillimeter Array

Christopher Faesi, Charles Lada, Jan Forbrich

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We present the first high angular resolution study of giant molecular clouds (GMCs) in the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 300, based on observations from the Submillimeter Array (SMA). We target eleven 500 pc-sized regions of active star formation within the galaxy in the CO(J=2-1) line at 40 pc spatial and 1 km/s spectral resolution and identify 45 individual GMCs. We characterize the physical properties of these GMCs, and find that they are similar to GMCs in the disks of the Milky Way and other nearby spiral galaxies. For example, the GMC mass spectrum in our sample has a slope of 1.80+/-0.07. Twelve clouds are spatially resolved by our observations, of which ten have virial mass estimates that agree to within a factor of two with mass estimates derived directly from CO integrated intensity, suggesting that the majority of these GMCs are bound. The resolved clouds show consistency with Larson's fundamental relations between size, linewidth, and mass observed in the Milky Way. We find that the linewidth scales with the size as DeltaV ~ R^(0.52+/-0.20), and the median surface density in the subsample is 54 Msun/pc^(-2). We detect 13CO in four GMCs and find a mean 12CO/13CO flux ratio of 6.2. Our interferometric observations recover between 30% and 100% of the integrated intensity from the APEX single dish CO observations of Faesi et al. 2014, suggesting the presence of low-mass GMCs and/or diffuse gas below our sensitivity limit. The fraction of APEX emission recovered increases with the SMA total intensity as well as with the star formation rate.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2016


  • galaxies: individual (NGC 300)
  • galaxies: ISM
  • ISM: clouds
  • ISM: molecules
  • radio lines: galaxies
  • techniques: interferometric


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