PRUSSIC: I. A JVLA survey of HCN, HCO+, and HNC (1–0) emission in z 3 dusty galaxies: Low dense-gas fractions in high-redshift star-forming galaxies

M. Rybak, JA Hodges, T. R. Greve3, D. Riechers, I. Lamperti, J. van Marrewijk, F. Walter, J. Wagg, P. P. van der Werf

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Abstract

Dusty star-forming galaxies (DSFGs) at redshift z ≥ 1 are among the most vigorously star-forming galaxies in the Universe. However, their dense (≥10 5cm -3) gas phase - typically traced by HCN(1-0) - remains almost entirely unexplored: only two DSFGs have been detected in HCN(1-0) to date. We present the results of a Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array survey of the J = 1-0 transition of HCN, HCO+, and HNC(1-0) in six strongly lensed DSFGs at z = 2:5-3:3, effectively doubling the number of DSFGs with deep observations of these lines. We detect HCN(1-0) emission in one source (J1202+5354, 4.6 σ), with a tentative HCO+(1-0) detection in another (J1609+6045, 3.3). Spectral stacking yields strict upper limits on the HCN/FIR (≤3:6 × 10 -4) and HCN/CO(1-0) ratios (≤0.045). The inferred HCN/FIR ratios (a proxy for the star-formation efficiency) are consistent with those in z ∼ 0 far-infrared-luminous starbursts. However, the HCN/CO ratios - a proxy for the dense-gas fraction - are a factor of a few lower than suggested by the two previous DSFG detections. Our results imply that most DSFGs have low dense-gas fractions. A comparison with theoretical models of star-forming galaxies indicates that the bulk of gas in DSFGs is at lower densities (≈10 2cm -3), similar to normal star-forming galaxies, rather than ultraluminous starbursts.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA70
Number of pages17
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Volume667
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • galaxies: high-redshift
  • galaxies: ISM
  • galaxies: star formation
  • submillimeter: general
  • radio lines: galaxies

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