David Rebolledo, Tony Wong, Rui Xue, Adam Leroy, Jin Koda, Jennifer Donovan Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Complementing the observations on the eastern part of galaxy NGC 6946 presented in a previous work, we report high spatial resolution observations of giant molecular clouds (GMCs) in the nearby spiral galaxies M101 and NGC 628 obtained with the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA). We observed CO(1 → 0) over regions with active star formation extending from 2 to 15 kpc galactocentric radius. Higher resolution observations of CO(2 → 1) toward the brightest regions observed in CO(1 → 0) have allowed us to resolve some of the largest GMCs. We have recovered short-spacing u-v components by using single dish observations from the Nobeyama 45 m and IRAM 30 m telescopes. Using the automated CPROPS algorithm we identified 112 CO complexes in the CO(1 → 0) maps and 144 GMCs in the CO(2 → 1) maps. Using a Bayesian fitting approach, we generate scaling relations for the sizes, line widths, and virial masses of the structures identified in this work. We do not find evidence for a tight power-law relation between size and line width, although the limited dynamic range in cloud size remains a clear issue in our analysis. Additionally, we use a Bayesian approach to analyze the scaling relation between the star formation and molecular gas surface density, known as the Kennicutt-Schmidt relation. When we perform our analysis using the boundaries of the structures identified by CPROPS, we find that the distribution of slopes are broadly distributed, mainly due to the limited dynamic range of our measured ΣH2. In the case of the CO(1 → 0) complexes, the slope distributions are most consistent with super-linear relations, although sub-linear relations cannot be excluded for NGC 628 and NGC 6946. The GMCs from higher resolution CO(2 → 1) maps follow a similar behavior, but with larger scatter. As a complementary study, we use the Bayesian approach to analyze the Kennicutt-Schmidt relation for a uniform grid covering the areas surveyed, and with ΣH2 non-detections included in the analysis. The distributions of slopes is consistent with sub-linear relations for NGC 6946 and NGC 628, but is less constrained for M101. This picture is preserved after a 24 μm background component is subtracted from the ΣSFR measurements. On-arm regions tend to have higher star formation rates than inter-arm regions. Similar to what we find in our study of the eastern part of NGC 6946, in M101 we find regions where the star formation efficiency (SFE) shows marked peaks at specific galoctocentric radii. On the other hand, the distribution of SFE in NGC 628 is more contiguous. We hypothesize that differences in the distribution of SFE may be indicative of different processes driving the spiral structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number99
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 20 2015


  • ISM: molecules
  • galaxies: ISM
  • galaxies: individual (NGC 6946, NGC 628, M101)
  • stars: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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