High resolution observations of HCN and HCO+J = 3–2 in the disk and outflow of Mrk 231 -- Detection of vibrationally excited HCN in the warped nucleus
Journal article, 2015

Aims. Our goal is to study molecular gas properties in nuclei and large scale outflows/winds from active galactic nuclei (AGNs) and starburst galaxies. Methods. We obtained high resolution (0.̋25 to 0.̋90) observations of HCN and HCO+J = 3 → 2 of the ultraluminous QSO galaxy Mrk 231 with the IRAM Plateau de Bure Interferometer (PdBI). Results. We find luminous HCN and HCO+J = 3 → 2 emission in the main disk and we detect compact (r ≲ 0''̣1 (90 pc)) vibrationally excited HCN J = 3 → 2ν2 = 1f emission centred on the nucleus. The velocity field of the vibrationally excited HCN is strongly inclined (position angle PA = 155°) compared to the east-west rotation of the main disk. The nuclear (r ≲ 0.̋1) molecular mass is estimated to 8 × 108 M⊙ with an average N(H2) of 1.2 × 1024 cm-2. Prominent, spatially extended (≳350 pc) line wings are found for HCN J = 3 → 2 with velocities up to ± 750 km s-1. Line ratios indicate that the emission is emerging in dense gas n = 104−5 × 105 cm-3 of elevated HCN abundance X(HCN) = 10-8−10-6. The highest X(HCN) also allows for the emission to originate in gas of more moderate density. We tentatively detect nuclear emission from the reactive ion HOC+ with HCO+/HOC+ = 10−20. Conclusions. The HCN ν2 = 1f line emission is consistent with the notion of a hot, dusty, warped inner disk of Mrk 231 where the ν2 = 1f line is excited by bright mid-IR 14 μm continuum. We estimate the vibrational temperature Tvib to 200−400 K. Based on relative source sizes we propose that 50% of the main HCN emission may have its excitation affected by the radiation field through IR pumping of the vibrational ground state. The HCN emission in the line wings, however, is more extended and thus likely not strongly affected by IR pumping. Our results reveal that dense clouds survive (and/or are formed) in the AGN outflow on scales of at least several hundred pc before evaporating or collapsing. The elevated HCN abundance in the outflow is consistent with warm chemistry possibly related to shocks and/or X-ray irradiated gas. An upper limit to the mass and momentum flux is 4 × 108 M⊙ and 12LAGN/c, respectively, and we discuss possible driving mechanisms for the dense outflow.

galaxies: evolution / galaxies: individual: Mrk 231 / galaxies: active / ISM: molecules / ISM: jets and outflows / quasars: general


Susanne Aalto

Chalmers, Earth and Space Sciences, Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics

S. G. Burillo

Sebastien Muller

Chalmers, Earth and Space Sciences, Onsala Space Observatory

J.M. Winters

Université Grenoble Alpes

E. Gonzalez-Alfonso

University of Alcalá

P. van der Werf

Leiden University

C. Henkel

King Abdulaziz University

Max Planck Society

Francesco Costagliola

Chalmers, Earth and Space Sciences, Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics

R. Neri

Université Grenoble Alpes

Astronomy and Astrophysics

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

Vol. 574 85- A85

Molecules as Diagnostic Tools for Active and Obscured Galaxies

Swedish Research Council (VR), 2012-01-01 -- 2014-12-31.

Subject Categories

Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology



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