Star formation conditions in nearby galaxies

Zusammenfassung

The understanding of gravitational stability of galactic disks against star formation, the interplay of atomic and molecular components of the interstellar medium in a galaxy and its physical conditions, namely temperature and density, are important to gain a deeper insight into star formation. Nearby galaxies like the spiral galaxy M51 or the southern starburst galaxies NGC4945 and Circinus offer excellent opportunities to investigate these topics over a complete galactic disk or parts of the galaxy. A suitable tracer to study the molecular part of the gaseous component of galaxies is the CO molecule. It is the second most abundant molecule after H2 in the interstellar medium, its lower lying transition are excited at typical conditions of molecular clouds and the rotational transitions lie in the radio window. Thus, CO emission can penetrate throughout galactic disks and is observable from the ground. Apart from complementary data from the literature, we use observations of 12CO 21, 12CO 4--3, and 13CO 2--1 in this thesis. Additionally, the [CI] 3P1-3P0 fine structure line was observed to study the physical conditions in the central regions of galaxies. In the first part of this thesis, the nearby spiral galaxy M51 is used as a sample source to investigate the onset of star formation. CO, HI, radio-continuum, dust, and stellar maps of M51 are combined to study star formation rate, the H2/HI transition, the gas-to-dust ratios, the stability of the disk against gravitational collapse, and properties of the giant molecular clouds. Parts of the results have been published in Astronomy and Astrophysics (461,143) in 2007 and are submitted to Astronomy and Astrophysics, 2008 for publication. We use the first complete 12CO 2--1 map of M51 including the companion galaxy NGC5195 observed with HERA at the IRAM-30m telescope to trace the molecular gas. Complementary HI VLA data is used to study the atomic gas distribution and the combined total gas surface density ...
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