ALMA Unveils Widespread Molecular Gas Clumps in the Ram Pressure Stripped Tail of the Norma Jellyfish Galaxy

Pavel Jáchym, Jeffrey D.P. Kenney, Ming Sun, Françoise Combes, Luca Cortese, Tom C. Scott, Suresh Sivanandam, Elias Brinks, Elke Roediger, Jan Palouš, Michele Fumagalli

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We present the first high-resolution map of the cold molecular gas distribution as traced by CO(2-1) emission with ALMA in a long ram pressure stripped tail. The Norma cluster galaxy ESO 137-001 is undergoing a strong interaction with the surrounding intracluster medium and is one of the nearest jellyfish galaxies with a long multiphase and multicomponent tail. We have mapped the full extent of the tail at 1″ (350 pc) angular resolution and found a rich distribution of mostly compact CO regions extending to nearly 60 kpc in length and 25 kpc in width. In total, about 109 M o˙ of molecular gas was detected with ALMA. From comparison with previous APEX observations, we also infer the presence of a substantial extended molecular component in the tail. The ALMA CO features are found predominantly at the heads of numerous small-scale (∼1.5 kpc) fireballs (i.e., star-forming clouds with linear streams of young stars extending toward the galaxy) but also large-scale (∼8 kpc) superfireballs and double-sided fireballs that have additional diffuse ionized gas tails extending in the direction opposite the stellar tails. The new data help to shed light on the origin of the molecular tail; CO filaments oriented in the direction of the tail are likely young molecular features formed in situ, whereas large CO features tilted with respect to the tail may have originated from dense gas complexes that were gradually pushed away from the disk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number145
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


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