Chemistry in luminous AGN and starburst galaxies
Journal article, 2008
Molecular line emission is a useful tool for probing the highly obscured inner kpc of starburst galaxies and buried AGNs. Molecular line ratios serve as diagnostic tools of the physical conditions of the gas-but also of its chemical properties. Both provide important clues to the type and evolutionary stage of the nuclear activity. While CO emission remains the main tracer for molecular distribution and dynamics, molecules such as HCN, HNC, HCO+, CN and HC3N are useful for probing the properties of the denser (n greater than or similar to 10(4) cm(-3)), star-forming gas. Here I discuss current views on how line emission from these species can be interpreted in luminous galaxies. HNC, HCO+ and CN are all species that can be associated both with photon dominated regions (PDRs) in starbursts-as well as X-ray dominated regions (XDRs) associated with AGN activity. HC3N line emission may identify galaxies where the starburst is in the early stage of its evolution.
DENSE MOLECULAR GAS