The role of molecular gas in galaxy evolution: Insights from BIMA song

Michele Thornley, Michael Regan, Tamara Helfer, Kartik Sheth, Stuart Vogel, Andy Harris, Tony Wong, Leo Blitz, Douglas Bock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We discuss the latest results from the BIMA Survey of Nearby Galaxies (BIMA SONG), which was completed in the summer of 1999. By imaging the CO emission in the inner disks of 44 nearby spirals, we are creating a consistent database of information on the spatial and kinematic distributions of cold molecular gas in nearby spiral galaxies. The SONG images emphasize the clumpy nature of molecular gas and show that molecular gas in galaxies generally does not follow an exponential profile as might be expected from the stellar light distribution. In addition, by comparison with multiwavelength broadband images, we show that the CO morphology is well correlated with the dust distribution in galaxies, indicating that the observed morphology is due to the true distribution of molecular gas and not simply the emissivity variations of CO. However, we note that the issue of how to convert CO emission to H2 column density quantitatively is still under debate: with the uniform SONG dataset we are exploring this issue systematically.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-398
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysics and Space Science
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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