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Large molecular gas reservoirs in ancestors of Milky Way-mass galaxies nine billion years ago

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Abstract
The gas accretion and star formation histories of galaxies like the Milky Way remain an outstanding problem in astrophysics(1,2). Observations show that 8 billion years ago, the progenitors to Milky Way-mass galaxies were forming stars 30 times faster than today and were predicted to be rich in molecular gas(3), in contrast to the low present-day gas fractions (<10%)(4-6). Here we show the detection of molecular gas from the CO (J = 3-2) emission (rest-frame 345.8 GHz) in galaxies at redshifts z = 1.2-1.3, selected to have the stellar mass and star formation rate of the progenitors of today's Milky Way-mass galaxies. The CO emission reveals large molecular gas masses, comparable to or exceeding the galaxy stellar masses, and implying that most of the baryons are in cold gas, not stars. The total luminosities of the galaxies from star formation and CO luminosities yield long gas consumption timescales. Compared to local spiral galaxies, the star formation efficiency, estimated from the ratio of total infrared luminosity (L-IR) to CO emission, has remained nearly constant since redshift z = 1.2, despite the order of magnitude decrease in gas fraction, consistent with the results for other galaxies at this epoch(7-10). Therefore, the physical processes that determine the rate at which gas cools to form stars in distant galaxies appear to be similar to that in local galaxies.
Keywords
STAR-FORMING GALAXIES, EXTRAGALACTIC LEGACY SURVEY, MAIN-SEQUENCE, GALAXIES, H-2 CONVERSION FACTOR, HIGH-REDSHIFT, STELLAR MASS, METALLICITY RELATION, QUIESCENT GALAXIES, SCALING RELATIONS, NEARBY, GALAXIES

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MLA
Papovich, C, I Labbe, K Glazebrook, et al. “Large Molecular Gas Reservoirs in Ancestors of Milky Way-mass Galaxies Nine Billion Years Ago.” NATURE ASTRONOMY 1.1 (2017): n. pag. Print.
APA
Papovich, C, Labbe, I., Glazebrook, K., Quadri, R., Bekiaris, G., Dickinson, M., Finkelstein, S., et al. (2017). Large molecular gas reservoirs in ancestors of Milky Way-mass galaxies nine billion years ago. NATURE ASTRONOMY, 1(1).
Chicago author-date
Papovich, C, I Labbe, K Glazebrook, R Quadri, G Bekiaris, M Dickinson, SL Finkelstein, et al. 2017. “Large Molecular Gas Reservoirs in Ancestors of Milky Way-mass Galaxies Nine Billion Years Ago.” Nature Astronomy 1 (1).
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Papovich, C, I Labbe, K Glazebrook, R Quadri, G Bekiaris, M Dickinson, SL Finkelstein, D Fisher, H Inami, RC Livermore, L Spitler, Caroline Straatman, and K-V Tran. 2017. “Large Molecular Gas Reservoirs in Ancestors of Milky Way-mass Galaxies Nine Billion Years Ago.” Nature Astronomy 1 (1).
Vancouver
1.
Papovich C, Labbe I, Glazebrook K, Quadri R, Bekiaris G, Dickinson M, et al. Large molecular gas reservoirs in ancestors of Milky Way-mass galaxies nine billion years ago. NATURE ASTRONOMY. 2017;1(1).
IEEE
[1]
C. Papovich et al., “Large molecular gas reservoirs in ancestors of Milky Way-mass galaxies nine billion years ago,” NATURE ASTRONOMY, vol. 1, no. 1, 2017.
@article{8582605,
  abstract     = {{The gas accretion and star formation histories of galaxies like the Milky Way remain an outstanding problem in astrophysics(1,2). Observations show that 8 billion years ago, the progenitors to Milky Way-mass galaxies were forming stars 30 times faster than today and were predicted to be rich in molecular gas(3), in contrast to the low present-day gas fractions (<10%)(4-6). Here we show the detection of molecular gas from the CO (J = 3-2) emission (rest-frame 345.8 GHz) in galaxies at redshifts z = 1.2-1.3, selected to have the stellar mass and star formation rate of the progenitors of today's Milky Way-mass galaxies. The CO emission reveals large molecular gas masses, comparable to or exceeding the galaxy stellar masses, and implying that most of the baryons are in cold gas, not stars. The total luminosities of the galaxies from star formation and CO luminosities yield long gas consumption timescales. Compared to local spiral galaxies, the star formation efficiency, estimated from the ratio of total infrared luminosity (L-IR) to CO emission, has remained nearly constant since redshift z = 1.2, despite the order of magnitude decrease in gas fraction, consistent with the results for other galaxies at this epoch(7-10). Therefore, the physical processes that determine the rate at which gas cools to form stars in distant galaxies appear to be similar to that in local galaxies.}},
  articleno    = {{0003}},
  author       = {{Papovich, C and Labbe, I and Glazebrook, K and Quadri, R and Bekiaris, G and Dickinson, M and Finkelstein, SL and Fisher, D and Inami, H and Livermore, RC and Spitler, L and Straatman, Caroline and Tran, K-V}},
  issn         = {{2397-3366}},
  journal      = {{NATURE ASTRONOMY}},
  keywords     = {{STAR-FORMING GALAXIES,EXTRAGALACTIC LEGACY SURVEY,MAIN-SEQUENCE,GALAXIES,H-2 CONVERSION FACTOR,HIGH-REDSHIFT,STELLAR MASS,METALLICITY RELATION,QUIESCENT GALAXIES,SCALING RELATIONS,NEARBY,GALAXIES}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  number       = {{1}},
  pages        = {{6}},
  title        = {{Large molecular gas reservoirs in ancestors of Milky Way-mass galaxies nine billion years ago}},
  url          = {{http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41550-016-0003}},
  volume       = {{1}},
  year         = {{2017}},
}

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