The CO-to-H2 Conversion Factor and Dust-to-gas Ratio on Kiloparsec Scales in Nearby Galaxies

November 2013 • 2013ApJ...777....5S

Authors • Sandstrom, K. M. • Leroy, A. K. • Walter, F. • Bolatto, A. D. • Croxall, K. V. • Draine, B. T. • Wilson, C. D. • Wolfire, M. • Calzetti, D. • Kennicutt, R. C. • Aniano, G. • Donovan Meyer, J. • Usero, A. • Bigiel, F. • Brinks, E. • de Blok, W. J. G. • Crocker, A. • Dale, D. • Engelbracht, C. W. • Galametz, M. • Groves, B. • Hunt, L. K. • Koda, J. • Kreckel, K. • Linz, H. • Meidt, S. • Pellegrini, E. • Rix, H. -W. • Roussel, H. • Schinnerer, E. • Schruba, A. • Schuster, K. -F. • Skibba, R. • van der Laan, T. • Appleton, P. • Armus, L. • Brandl, B. • Gordon, K. • Hinz, J. • Krause, O. • Montiel, E. • Sauvage, M. • Schmiedeke, A. • Smith, J. D. T. • Vigroux, L.

Abstract • We present ~kiloparsec spatial resolution maps of the CO-to-H2 conversion factor (αCO) and dust-to-gas ratio (DGR) in 26 nearby, star-forming galaxies. We have simultaneously solved for αCO and the DGR by assuming that the DGR is approximately constant on kiloparsec scales. With this assumption, we can combine maps of dust mass surface density, CO-integrated intensity, and H I column density to solve for both αCO and the DGR with no assumptions about their value or dependence on metallicity or other parameters. Such a study has just become possible with the availability of high-resolution far-IR maps from the Herschel key program KINGFISH, 12CO J = (2-1) maps from the IRAM 30 m large program HERACLES, and H I 21 cm line maps from THINGS. We use a fixed ratio between the (2-1) and (1-0) lines to present our αCO results on the more typically used 12CO J = (1-0) scale and show using literature measurements that variations in the line ratio do not affect our results. In total, we derive 782 individual solutions for αCO and the DGR. On average, αCO = 3.1 M pc-2 (K km s-1)-1 for our sample with a standard deviation of 0.3 dex. Within galaxies, we observe a generally flat profile of αCO as a function of galactocentric radius. However, most galaxies exhibit a lower αCO value in the central kiloparsec—a factor of ~2 below the galaxy mean, on average. In some cases, the central αCO value can be factors of 5-10 below the standard Milky Way (MW) value of αCO, MW = 4.4 M pc-2 (K km s-1)-1. While for αCO we find only weak correlations with metallicity, the DGR is well-correlated with metallicity, with an approximately linear slope. Finally, we present several recommendations for choosing an appropriate αCO for studies of nearby galaxies.


IPAC Authors


Phil Appleton

Senior Scientist


Lee Armus

Senior Scientist