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Submillimetre flux as a probe of molecular ISM mass in high-z galaxies


Liang, Lichen; Feldmann, Robert; Faucher-Giguère, Claude-André; Kereš, Dušan; Hopkins, Philip F; Hayward, Christopher C; Quataert, Eliot; Scoville, Nick Z (2018). Submillimetre flux as a probe of molecular ISM mass in high-z galaxies. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Letters, 478(1):L83-L88.

Abstract

Recent long-wavelength observations on the thermal dust continuum suggest that the Rayleigh–Jeans tail can be used as a time-efficient quantitative probe of the dust and interstellar medium (ISM) mass in high-z galaxies. We use high-resolution cosmological simulations from the Feedback in Realistic Environment (FIRE) project to analyse the dust emission of M* ≳ 1010 M⊙ galaxies at z= 2–4. Our simulations (MassiveFIRE) explicitly include various forms of stellar feedback, and they produce the stellar masses and star formation rates of high-z galaxies in agreement with observations. Using radiative transfer modelling, we show that sub-millimetre (sub-mm) luminosity and molecular ISM mass are tightly correlated and that the overall normalization is in quantitative agreement with observations. Notably, sub-mm luminosity traces molecular ISM mass even during starburst episodes as dust mass and mass-weighted temperature evolve only moderately between z = 4 and z = 2, including during starbursts. Our finding supports the empirical approach of using broadband sub-mm flux as a proxy for molecular gas content in high-z galaxies. We thus expect single-band sub-mm observations with ALMA to dramatically increase the sample size of high-z galaxies with reliable ISM masses in the near future.

Abstract

Recent long-wavelength observations on the thermal dust continuum suggest that the Rayleigh–Jeans tail can be used as a time-efficient quantitative probe of the dust and interstellar medium (ISM) mass in high-z galaxies. We use high-resolution cosmological simulations from the Feedback in Realistic Environment (FIRE) project to analyse the dust emission of M* ≳ 1010 M⊙ galaxies at z= 2–4. Our simulations (MassiveFIRE) explicitly include various forms of stellar feedback, and they produce the stellar masses and star formation rates of high-z galaxies in agreement with observations. Using radiative transfer modelling, we show that sub-millimetre (sub-mm) luminosity and molecular ISM mass are tightly correlated and that the overall normalization is in quantitative agreement with observations. Notably, sub-mm luminosity traces molecular ISM mass even during starburst episodes as dust mass and mass-weighted temperature evolve only moderately between z = 4 and z = 2, including during starbursts. Our finding supports the empirical approach of using broadband sub-mm flux as a proxy for molecular gas content in high-z galaxies. We thus expect single-band sub-mm observations with ALMA to dramatically increase the sample size of high-z galaxies with reliable ISM masses in the near future.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute for Computational Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:530 Physics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Space and Planetary Science, Astronomy and Astrophysics
Language:English
Date:21 July 2018
Deposited On:05 Mar 2019 13:11
Last Modified:17 Sep 2019 19:39
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1745-3933
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/mnrasl/sly071
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDPP00P2_157591
  • : Project TitleAiming for the Parsec Scale - Star Formation and Feedback Processes in High Redshift Galaxies

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