AAS 204th Meeting, June 2004
Session 80 Nearby Galaxies
Poster, Thursday, June 3, 2004, 9:20am-4:00pm, Ballroom

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[80.07] The Molecular Gas Spiral Arms of M51: The Star Formation Connection

E. Schinnerer (NRAO), A. Weiss (IRAM), N.Z. Scoville (Caltech), S. Aalto (OSO)

The nearby grand-design spiral galaxy M51 is an ideal target due to its almost face-on orientation to study the connection or interplay between molecular gas and massive star formation. We present multi-line data to investigate the physical properties of the dense molecular gas in the spiral arms of the Whirlpool galaxy M51. We have mapped five key molecules (12CO also in 2-1, 13CO, C18O, HCN, HCO+) in their 1-0 transitions at high angular resolution (~ 2'' ~ 100pc) in two distinct regions of the spiral arms using the Owens Valley Radio Observatory mm-interferometer. All CO data have been short spacing corrected using IRAM 30m single dish data. Our observations allow for the first time to investigate the relation between the dense molecular gas and star formation within the spiral arm environment at very high spatial resolution. The multi-transition OVRO data are used to determine the physical properties of the molecular gas such as density and temperature using LVG (Line-Velocity-Gradient) models. Comparison between different sites of active star formation reveals correlations between the molecular gas properties and on-going massive star formation as seen in our HST images.

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