A large 12C/13C isotopic ratio in M82 and NGC253

Astronomy and Astrophysics – Astrophysics – Cosmology and Extragalactic Astrophysics

Scientific paper

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5 Pages, 1 Figure. Accepted for publication in A&A

Scientific paper

To derive carbon isotopic ratios from optically thin tracers in the central regions of the starburst galaxies M82 and NGC253. We present high sensitivity observations of CCH and two of its 13C isotopologues, C13CH and 13CCH, as well as the optically thin emission from C18O and 13C18O. We assume the column density ratio between isotopologues is representative of the 12C13C isotopic ratio. From CCH, lower limits to the 12C/13C isotopic ratio of 138 in M82, and 81 in NGC253, are derived. Lower limits to the 12C/13C ratios from CO isotopologues support these. 13C18O is tentatively detected in NGC253, which is the first reported detection in the extragalactic ISM. Based on these limits, we infer ratios of 16O/18O>350 and >300 in M82 and NGC253, respectively, and 32S/34S>16 in NGC253. and the H2 column density determination through the optically thin tracers 13CO and C18O. The derived CCH fractional abundances toward these galaxies of <~1.1\times10^-8 are in good agreement with those of molecular clouds in the Galactic disk. Our lower limits to the 12C/13C ratio from CCH are a factor of 2-3 larger than previous limits. The results are discussed in the context of molecular and nucleo-chemical evolution. The large 12C/13C isotopic ratio of the molecular ISM in these starburst galaxies suggest that the gas has been recently accreted toward their nuclear regions.

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