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          Institute: MPI für Astronomie     Collection: Publikationen_mpia     Display Documents

ID: 606640.0, MPI für Astronomie / Publikationen_mpia
Water vapor emission reveals a highly obscured, star-forming nuclear region in the QSO host galaxy APM 08279+5255 at z = 3.9
Authors:van der Werf, P. P.; Berciano Alba, A.; Spaans, M.; Loenen, A. F.; Meijerink, R.; Riechers, D. A.; Cox, P.; Weiß, A.; Walter, F.
Date of Publication (YYYY-MM-DD):2011
Journal Abbrev.:The Astrophysical Journal Letters
Issue / Number:2
Audience:Not Specified
Abstract / Description:We present the detection of four rotational emission lines of water vapor, from energy levels E u/k = 101-454 K, in the gravitationally lensed z = 3.9 QSO host galaxy APM 08279+5255. While the lowest H2 O lines are collisionally excited in clumps of warm, dense gas (density of hydrogen nuclei n_{{\scriptsize H}} =(3.1+/- 1.2)\times 10^6\;cm^{-3}, gas temperature T g ~ 105 ± 21 K), we find that the excitation of the higher lines is dominated by the intense local infrared radiation field. Since only collisionally excited emission contributes to gas cooling, we conclude that H2 O is not a significant coolant of the warm molecular gas. Our excitation model requires the radiatively excited gas to be located in an extended region of high 100 μ m opacity (Ï„100 = 0.9 ± 0.2). Locally, such extended infrared-opaque regions are found only in the nuclei of ultraluminous infrared galaxies. We propose a model where the infrared-opaque circumnuclear cloud, which is penetrated by the X-ray radiation field of the QSO nucleus, contains clumps of massive star formation where the H2 O emission originates. The radiation pressure from the intense local infrared radiation field exceeds the thermal gas pressure by about an order of magnitude, suggesting close to Eddington-limited star formation in these clumps.
Free Keywords:galaxies: ISM; galaxies: nuclei; quasars: individual: APM 08279+5255
External Publication Status:published
Document Type:Article
Communicated by:N. N.
Affiliations:MPI für Astronomie
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