Interstellar Gas in Low Mass Virgo Cluster Spiral Galaxies

Astronomy and Astrophysics – Astrophysics

Scientific paper

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24 pages, Latex, 2 Figures, 6 Tables To appear in the Astronomical Journal, July 1997

Scientific paper


We have measured the strengths of the [C II] 158 micron, [N II] 122 micron, and CO (1 - 0) lines from five low blue luminosity spiral galaxies in the Virgo Cluster, using the Infrared Space Observatory and the NRAO 12m millimeter telescope. Two of the five galaxies have high L([C II)]/L(CO) and L(FIR)/L(CO) ratios compared to higher mass spirals. These two galaxies, NGC 4294 and NGC 4299, have L([C II])/L(CO) ratios of >14,300 and 15,600, respectively, which are similar to values found in dwarf irregular galaxies. This is the first time that such enhanced L([C II])/L(CO) ratios have been found in spiral galaxies. This result may be due to low abundances of dust and heavy elements, which can cause the CO (1 - 0) measurements to underestimate the molecular gas content. Another possibility is that radiation from diffuse HI clouds may dominate the [C II] emission from these galaxies. Less than a third of the observed [C II] emission arises from HII regions.

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