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Tacconi L.J.,Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics | Genzel R.,Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics | Genzel R.,University of California at Berkeley | Neri R.,IRAM | And 19 more authors.
Nature | Year: 2010

Stars form from cold molecular interstellar gas. As this is relatively rare in the local Universe, galaxies like the Milky Way form only a few new stars per year. Typical massive galaxies in the distant Universe formed stars an order of magnitude more rapidly. Unless star formation was significantly more efficient, this difference suggests that young galaxies were much more molecular-gas rich. Molecular gas observations in the distant Universe have so far largely been restricted to very luminous, rare objects, including mergers and quasars, and accordingly we do not yet have a clear idea about the gas content of more normal (albeit massive) galaxies. Here we report the results of a survey of molecular gas in samples of typical massive-star-forming galaxies at mean redshifts >z< of about 1.2 and 2.3, when the Universe was respectively 40% and 24% of its current age. Our measurements reveal that distant star forming galaxies were indeed gas rich, and that the star formation efficiency is not strongly dependent on cosmic epoch. The average fraction of cold gas relative to total galaxy baryonic mass at z = 2.3 and z = 1.2 is respectively about 44% and 34%, three to ten times higher than in todayĝ€™s massive spiral galaxies. The slow decrease between ≈z 2 and ≈z 1 probably requires a mechanism of semi-continuous replenishment of fresh gas to the young galaxies. © 2010 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved. Source


Genzel R.,Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics | Genzel R.,University of California at Berkeley | Tacconi L.J.,Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics | Gracia-Carpio J.,Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics | And 20 more authors.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2010

We use the first systematic data sets of CO molecular line emission in z ~ 1-3 normal star-forming galaxies (SFGs) for a comparison of the dependence of galaxy-averaged star formation rates on molecular gas masses at low and high redshifts, and in different galactic environments. Although the current high-z samples are still small and biased towards the luminous and massive tail of the actively star-forming 'main-sequence', a fairly clear picture is emerging. Independent of whether galaxy-integrated quantities or surface densities are considered, low- and high-z SFG populations appear to follow similar molecular gas-star formation relations with slopes 1.1 to 1.2, over three orders of magnitude in gas mass or surface density. The gas-depletion time-scale in these SFGs grows from 0.5 Gyr at z ~ 2 to 1.5 Gyr at z ~ 0. The average corresponds to a fairly low star formation efficiency of 2 per cent per dynamical time. Because star formation depletion times are significantly smaller than the Hubble time at all redshifts sampled, star formation rates and gas fractions are set by the balance between gas accretion from the halo and stellar feedback. In contrast, very luminous and ultraluminous, gas-rich major mergers at both low and high z produce on average four to 10 times more far-infrared luminosity per unit gas mass. We show that only some fraction of this difference can be explained by uncertainties in gas mass or luminosity estimators; much of it must be intrinsic. A possible explanation is a top-heavy stellar mass function in the merging systems but the most likely interpretation is that the star formation relation is driven by global dynamical effects. For a given mass, the more compact merger systems produce stars more rapidly because their gas clouds are more compressed with shorter dynamical times, so that they churn more quickly through the available gas reservoir than the typical normal disc galaxies. When the dependence on galactic dynamical time-scale is explicitly included, disc galaxies and mergers appear to follow similar gas-to-star formation relations. The mergers may be forming stars at slightly higher efficiencies than the discs. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation. © 2010 RAS. Source


Genzel R.,Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics | Genzel R.,University of California at Berkeley | Tacconi L.J.,Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics | Lutz D.,Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics | And 34 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2015

We combine molecular gas masses inferred from CO emission in 500 star-forming galaxies (SFGs) between z = 0 and 3, from the IRAM-COLDGASS, PHIBSS1/2, and other surveys, with gas masses derived from Herschel far-IR dust measurements in 512 galaxy stacks over the same stellar mass/redshift range. We constrain the scaling relations of molecular gas depletion timescale (tdepl) and gas to stellar mass ratio (Mmol gas/M∗) of SFGs near the star formation "main-sequence" with redshift, specific star-formation rate (sSFR), and stellar mass (M∗). The CO- and dust-based scaling relations agree remarkably well. This suggests that the CO → H2 mass conversion factor varies little within ±0.6 dex of the main sequence (sSFR(ms, z, M∗)), and less than 0.3 dex throughout this redshift range. This study builds on and strengthens the results of earlier work. We find that tdepl scales as (1 + z)-0.3 × (sSFR/sSFR(ms, z, M∗))-0.5, with little dependence on M∗. The resulting steep redshift dependence of Mmol gas/M∗≈ (1 + z)3 mirrors that of the sSFR and probably reflects the gas supply rate. The decreasing gas fractions at high M∗are driven by the flattening of the SFR-M∗relation. Throughout the probed redshift range a combination of an increasing gas fraction and a decreasing depletion timescale causes a larger sSFR at constant M∗. As a result, galaxy integrated samples of the Mmol gas-SFR rate relation exhibit a super-linear slope, which increases with the range of sSFR. With these new relations it is now possible to determine Mmol gas with an accuracy of ±0.1 dex in relative terms, and ±0.2 dex including systematic uncertainties. © 2015. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. Source


Genzel R.,Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics | Genzel R.,University of California at Berkeley | Tacconi L.J.,Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics | Kurk J.,Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics | And 21 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2013

We report matched resolution imaging spectroscopy of the CO 3-2 e (with the IRAM Plateau de Bure millimeter interferometer) and of the Hα e (with LUCI at the Large Binocular Telescope) in the massive z = 1.53 main-sequence galaxy EGS 13011166, as part of the "Plateau de Bure high-z, blue-sequence survey" (PHIBSS: Tacconi et al.). We combine these data with Hubble Space Telescope V-I-J-H-band maps to derive spatially resolved distributions of stellar surface density, star formation rate, molecular gas surface density, optical extinction, and gas kinematics. The spatial distribution and kinematics of the ionized and molecular gas are remarkably similar and are well modeled by a turbulent, globally Toomre unstable, rotating disk. The stellar surface density distribution is smoother than the clumpy rest-frame UV/optical light distribution and peaks in an obscured, star-forming massive bulge near the dynamical center. The molecular gas surface density and the effective optical screen extinction track each other and are well modeled by a "mixed" extinction model. The inferred slope of the spatially resolved molecular gas to star formation rate relation, N = dlogΣstar form/dlogΣmol gas, depends strongly on the adopted extinction model, and can vary from 0.8 to 1.7. For the preferred mixed dust-gas model, we find N = 1.14 ± 0.1. © 2013. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. Source


Genzel R.,Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics | Genzel R.,University of California at Berkeley | Tacconi L.J.,Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics | Combes F.,Paris Observatory | And 21 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2012

We use the first systematic samples of CO millimeter emission in z ≥ 1 ''main-sequence'' star-forming galaxies to study the metallicity dependence of the conversion factor αCO, from CO line luminosity to molecular gas mass. The molecular gas depletion rate inferred from the ratio of the star formation rate (SFR) to CO luminosity, is 1Gyr-1 for near-solar metallicity galaxies with stellar masses above M S 1011 M. In this regime, the depletion rate does not vary more than a factor of two to three as a function of molecular gas surface density or redshift between z 0 and 2. Below M S the depletion rate increases rapidly with decreasing metallicity. We argue that this trend is not caused by starburst events, by changes in the physical parameters of the molecular clouds, or by the impact of the fundamental-metallicity-SFR-stellar mass relation. A more probable explanation is that the conversion factor is metallicity dependent and that star formation can occur in "CO-dark" gas. The trend is also expected theoretically from the effect of enhanced photodissociation of CO by ultraviolet radiation at low metallicity. From the available z 0 and z 1-3 samples we constrain the slope of the log(αCO)-log (metallicity) relation to range between -1 and -2, fairly insensitive to the assumed slope of the gas-SFR relation. Because of the lower metallicities near the peak of the galaxy formation activity at z 1-2 compared to z 0, we suggest that molecular gas masses estimated from CO luminosities have to be substantially corrected upward for galaxies below M S. © 2012. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. Source

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