CO Emission, Molecular Gas, and Metallicity in Main-sequence Star-forming Galaxies at z ∼ 2.3

Ryan L. Sanders, Alice E. Shapley, Tucker Jones, Irene Shivaei, Gergö Popping, Naveen A. Reddy, Romeel Davé, Sedona H. Price, Bahram Mobasher, Mariska Kriek, Alison L. Coil, Brian Siana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present observations of CO(3−2) in 13 main-sequence z = 2.0-2.5 star-forming galaxies at log ( M * / M ⊙ ) = 10.2 - 10.6 that span a wide range in metallicity (O/H) based on rest-optical spectroscopy. We find that L CO ( 3 − 2 ) ′ /SFR decreases with decreasing metallicity, implying that the CO luminosity per unit gas mass is lower in low-metallicity galaxies at z ∼ 2. We constrain the CO-to-H2 conversion factor (α CO) and find that α CO inversely correlates with metallicity at z ∼ 2. We derive molecular gas masses (M mol) and characterize the relations among M *, SFR, M mol, and metallicity. At z ∼ 2, M mol increases and the molecular gas fraction (M mol/M *) decreases with increasing M *, with a significant secondary dependence on SFR. Galaxies at z ∼ 2 lie on a near-linear molecular KS law that is well-described by a constant depletion time of 700 Myr. We find that the scatter about the mean SFR−M *, O/H−M *, and M mol−M * relations is correlated such that, at fixed M *, z ∼ 2 galaxies with larger M mol have higher SFR and lower O/H. We thus confirm the existence of a fundamental metallicity relation at z ∼ 2, where O/H is inversely correlated with both SFR and M mol at fixed M *. These results suggest that the scatter of the z ∼ 2 star-forming main sequence, mass-metallicity relation, and M mol-M * relation are primarily driven by stochastic variations in gas inflow rates. We place constraints on the mass loading of galactic outflows and perform a metal budget analysis, finding that massive z ∼ 2 star-forming galaxies retain only 30% of metals produced, implying that a large mass of metals resides in the circumgalactic medium.

Original languageEnglish
Article number24
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume942
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023. The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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