Turbulent molecular gas and star formation in the shocked intergalactic medium of Stephan's Quintet
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AuthorGuillard, P.; Boulanger, F.; Pineau des Forêts, G.; Falgarone, E.; Gusdorf, A.; Cluver, M. E.; Appleton, P. N.; Lisenfeld, Ute; Duc, P.-A.; Ogle, P. M.; Xu, C. K.
American Astronomical Society; Institute of Physics
GalaxiesClustersStephan's QuintetInteractionsISMIntergalactic medium
Guillard, P. Turbulent molecular gas and star formation in the shocked intergalactic medium of Stephan's Quintet. Astrophysical Journal, 749(2): 158 (2012). [http://hdl.handle.net/10481/28359]
SponsorshipIRAM is supported by INSU/CNRS (France), MPG (Germany) and IGN (Spain). PG also would like to acknowledge in particular the IRAM staff for help provided during the observations. UL acknowledges support by the research project AYA2007-67625-C02-02 from the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia y Educación and the Junta de Andalucía (Spain) grant FQM-0108.
We report on single-dish radio CO observations towards the inter-galactic medium (IGM) of the Stephan's Quintet (SQ) group of galaxies. Extremely bright mid-IR H2 rotational line emission from warm molecular gas has been detected by Spitzer in the kpc-scale shock created by a galaxy collision. We detect in the IGM CO(1-0), (2-1) and (3-2) line emission with complex profiles, spanning a velocity range of 1000 km/s. The spectra exhibit the pre-shock recession velocities of the two colliding gas systems (5700 and 6700 km/s), but also intermediate velocities. This shows that much of the molecular gas has formed out of diffuse gas accelerated by the galaxy-tidal arm collision. A total H2 mass of 5x10^9 Msun is detected in the shock. The molecular gas carries a large fraction of the gas kinetic energy involved in the collision, meaning that this energy has not been thermalized yet. The turbulent kinetic energy of the H2 gas is at least a factor of 5 greater than the thermal energy of the hot plasma heated by the collision. The ratio between the warm H2 mass derived from Spitzer IRS spectroscopy and the H2 mass derived from CO fluxes is ~0.3 in the IGM of SQ, which is 10-100 times higher than in star-forming galaxies. In the shocked region, the ratio of the PAH-to-CO surface luminosities, commonly used to measure the star formation efficiency of the H2 gas, is lower (up to a factor 75) than the observed values in star-forming galaxies. We suggest that turbulence fed by the galaxy-tidal arm collision maintains a high heating rate within the H2 gas. This interpretation implies that the velocity dispersion on the scale of giant molecular clouds in SQ is one order of magnitude larger than the Galactic value. The high amplitude of turbulence may explain why this gas is not forming stars efficiently. [abridged version]