Tracing Dense Gas in Six Resolved GMCs of the Andromeda Galaxy

Jan Forbrich, Charles J. Lada, Jérôme Pety, Glen Petitpas

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We present dense-gas--tracing molecular observations of six resolved Giant Molecular Clouds (GMCs) in the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). Using the NOEMA interferometer, we observed the transitions of HCN(1-0), HCO$^+$(1-0), and HNC(1-0), as well as $^{13}$CO(1-0) and 100 GHz continuum emission. This complements our earlier work with the Submillimeter Array (SMA), including resolved dust continuum detections of these clouds at 230 GHz. In this work, we first compare different continuum measurements to conclude that the average free-free contamination of the observed flux is 71% at 3 mm but only 13% at 1 mm, confirming that emission at 3 mm is less reliable than that at 1 mm for calculating dust masses of star-forming clouds. While the $^{13}$CO emission is more extended than both HCN and HCO$^+$ emission, which in turn is more extended than HNC emission, we find that both HCN and HCO$^+$ are spatially coincident with, and similarly extended as, the 230 GHz dust emission. This suggests that both the 230 GHz dust continuum and most importantly the HCN emission traces the dense gas component of these GMCs. From comparison of the molecular emission with dust masses derived from the 230 GHz continuum emission, we obtain the first direct measurements of the dust-mass-to-light ratios ($\alpha^\prime_{HCN}$ and $\alpha^\prime_{HCO^+}$) in GMCs of an external galaxy. For HCN, the result is broadly similar to a measurement in the local Perseus cloud suggesting that these are indeed dense gas conversion factors. A larger cloud sample will be required to assess whether HCN is tracing comparable cloud-scale density regimes across the environments of M31.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 23 Aug 2023


  • astro-ph.GA


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