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Origins of Molecular Clouds in Early-type Galaxies

Babyk, Iu. V.; McNamara, B.R.; Tamhane, P.D.; Nulsen, P.E.J.; Russell, H.R.; Edge, A.C.

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Iu. V. Babyk

B.R. McNamara

P.D. Tamhane

P.E.J. Nulsen

H.R. Russell


We analyze Chandra observations of the hot atmospheres of 40 early spiral and elliptical galaxies. Using new temperature, density, cooling time, and mass profiles, we explore relationships between their hot atmospheres and cold molecular gas. Molecular gas mass correlates with atmospheric gas mass and density over four decades from central galaxies in clusters to normal giant ellipticals and early spirals. The mass and density relations follow power laws: ${M}_{\mathrm{mol}}\propto {M}_{{\rm{X}}}^{1.4\pm 0.1}$ and ${M}_{\mathrm{mol}}\propto {n}_{{\rm{e}}}^{1.8\pm 0.3}$, respectively, at 10 kpc. The ratio of molecular gas to atmospheric gas within a 10 kpc radius lies between 3% and 10% for early-type galaxies and between 3% and 50% for central galaxies in clusters. Early-type galaxies have detectable levels of molecular gas when their atmospheric cooling times fall below ~1 Gyr at a radius of 10 kpc. A similar trend is found in central cluster galaxies. We find no relationship between the ratio of the cooling time to free-fall time, t c/t ff, and the presence or absence of molecular clouds in early-type galaxies. The data are consistent with much of the molecular gas in early-type galaxies having condensed from their hot atmospheres.


Babyk, I. V., McNamara, B., Tamhane, P., Nulsen, P., Russell, H., & Edge, A. (2019). Origins of Molecular Clouds in Early-type Galaxies. Astrophysical Journal, 887(2), Article 149.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 4, 2019
Online Publication Date Dec 17, 2019
Publication Date Dec 20, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 22, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jan 22, 2020
Journal Astrophysical Journal
Print ISSN 0004-637X
Publisher American Astronomical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 887
Issue 2
Article Number 149


Published Journal Article (1.5 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2019. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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