Central molecular zones in galaxies: 12CO-to-13CO ratios, carbon budget, and X factors
Published 2020-01-14Version 1
This paper presents ground-based 12CO and 13CO measurements of 126 nearby galaxy centers in various J transitions. More than 60 galaxies were measured in at least four lines. The average relative intensities of the first four 12CO transitions are 1.00 : 0.92 : 0.70 : 0.57. The average 12CO-to-13CO ratios are 13.0, 11.6, and 12.8 for the first three transitiions. The sizes of central CO concentrations are well defined in maps, but poorly determined by multi-aperture photometry. Using radiative transfer models (RADEX), we derived model gas parameters, where the assumed carbon elemental abundances and carbon gas depletion onto dust are the main causes of uncertainty. The new CO data and published [CI] and [CII] data imply that CO, Co, and C+ each represent about one-third of the gas-phase carbon in the molecular interstellar medium in galaxy centers Their mean beam-averaged central molecular hydrogen column density is N(H2) = (1.5+/-0.2) x 10^(21) cm^(2) and CO-to-H2 conversion factors are typically ten times lower than the `standard' Milky Way disk value, with a mean X(CO) = (1.9+/-0.2) x 10^(19) cm^(2)/K km/s. The corresponding [CI]-to-H2 factor is five times higher than X(CO), with X[CI] = (9+/-2) x 10^(19) cm^(2)/K km/s. No unique conversion factor can be determined for [CII]. The low molecular gas content of galaxy centers relative to their CO intensities is explained in roughly equal parts by higher central gas-phase carbon abundances, elevated gas temperatures, and larger gas velocity dispersions than found in galaxy disks.