University of Hertfordshire

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Molecular gas and star formation in local early-type galaxies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • 906061

    Accepted author manuscript, 968 KB, PDF document

  • 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. McDermid
  • And 6 others
  • R. Morganti
  • T. Oosterloo
  • P. Serra
  • T. Naab
  • M. Sarzi
  • A. Weijmans
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-58
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the International Astronomical Union
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010


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.


Tracing the Ancestry of Galaxies (on the land of our ancestors) Proceedings IAU Symposium No. 277, 2010 C. Carignan, F. Combes & K.C. Freeman, eds.

ID: 555721