AAS 200th meeting, Albuquerque, NM, June 2002
Session 43. Galaxies
Display, Tuesday, June 4, 2002, 10:00am-6:30pm, SW Exhibit Hall

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[43.16] Molecular Gas in Elliptical Galaxies: Distribution and Kinematics

L. M. Young (New Mexico Tech)

It is now well known that many elliptical galaxies contain cold interstellar gas and dust. The distribution and kinematics of this gas are important clues to the origin of the gas and the evolution of elliptical galaxies.

I present interferometric images of CO emission in five elliptical galaxies and nondetections in two others, thereby doubling the number of complete CO maps that exist for ellipticals. The resolution of these images is 7\arcsec \approx 1.5 kpc. The detected ellipticals have 108 to 5\times 109 M\odot of molecular gas distributed in mostly symmetric rotating disks of radius 2 to 12 kpc. Four out of the five molecular disks show remarkable alignment with the optical major axes of their host galaxies.

Comparison of stellar and gas kinematics in NGC 4476 implies that the molecular gas could not have come from internal stellar mass loss. The molecular gas is closely aligned with the optical major axis and the stellar rotation is in the same sense as the gas rotation, but the specific angular momentum of the gas is about three times larger than that of the stars. I also present evidence that the molecular gas in all of these ellipticals is forming stars, making rotationally supported stellar disks which will be very similar in character to the stellar disks now known to be present in many ellipticals.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34
© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.