Vibrationally excited HC3N in NGC 4418
Journal article, 2010

Aims. We investigate the molecular gas properties of the deeply obscured luminous infrared galaxy NGC 4418. We address the excitation of the complex molecule HC3N to determine whether its unusually luminous emission is related to the nature of the buried nuclear source. Methods. We use IRAM 30 m and JCMT observations of rotational and vibrational lines of HC3N to model the excitation of the molecule by means of rotational diagrams. Results. We report the first confirmed extragalactic detection of vibrational lines of HC3N. We detect 6 different rotational transitions ranging from J = 10–9 to J = 30–29 in the ground vibrational state and obtain a tentative detection of the J = 38–37 line. We also detect 7 rotational transitions of the vibrationally excited states v6 and v7, with angular momenta ranging from J = 10–9 to 28–27. The energies of the upper states of the observed transitions range from 20 to 850 K. In the optically thin regime, we find that the rotational transitions of the vibrational ground state can be fitted for two temperatures, 30 K and 260 K, while the vibrationally excited levels can be fitted for a rotational temperature of 90 K and a vibrational temperature of 500 K. In the inner 300 pc of NGC 4418, we estimate a high HC3N abundance, of the order of 10-7. Conclusions. The excitation of the HC3N molecule responds strongly to the intense radiation field and the presence of warm, dense gas and dust at the center of NGC 4418. The intense HC3N line emission is a result of both high abundances and excitation. The properties of the HC3N emitting gas are similar to those found for hot cores in Sgr B2, which implies that the nucleus (<300 pc) of NGC 4418 is reminiscent of a hot core. The potential presence of a compact, hot component (T = 500 K) is also discussed.

galaxies: evolution: individual: NGC 4418

galaxies: starburst

ISM: molecules

radio lines: ISM

galaxies: active


Francesco Costagliola

Chalmers, Earth and Space Sciences, Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics

Susanne Aalto

Chalmers, Earth and Space Sciences, Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics

Astronomy and Astrophysics

0004-6361 (ISSN) 1432-0746 (eISSN)

Vol. 515 8 71-79 A71

Advanced Radio Astronomy in Europe (RADIONET-FP7)

European Commission (EC) (EC/FP7/227290), 2009-01-01 -- 2012-06-30.

Subject Categories

Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology


Basic sciences



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