Science > Highlights > Recent Highlights > The Dynamics of the First Galaxies: [C II]

The Dynamics of the First Galaxies: [C II]

by Davis Murphy last modified Sep 08, 2015

first_galaxies_CII.jpgThe authors present analysis of an unusual [C II] emission line observed with ALMA in the very luminous quasi-stellar object (QSO) SDSS J155426.16+193703.0 at z ∼ 4.6. The line is extremely broad – full width at half-maximum 735 km/s – and appears to have a flat-topped or double-peaked line profile. A velocity map of the line shows a gradient across the source that indicates large-scale rotation of star-forming gas. Together, the velocity map and line profile suggest the presence of a massive rotating disc with a dynamical mass Mdyn ≳ 5 x 1010 M. Using the assumption of a rotating disc origin, the authors employ an empirical relation between galaxy disc circular velocity and bulge velocity dispersion (σ) to estimate that σ > 310 km s1, subject to a correction for the unknown disc inclination. This result implies that this source is consistent with the local M–σ relation, or offset at most by an order of magnitude in black hole mass. In contrast, the assumption of a bulge origin for the [C II] emission line would lead to a conclusion that the black hole is nearly two orders of magnitude more massive than predicted by the M–σ relation, similar to previous findings for other high-redshift QSOs. As disc rotation may be a common origin for [C II] emission at high redshifts, these results stress that careful consideration of dynamical origins is required when using observations of this line to derive properties of high-redshift galaxies.

View Paper: ALMA detection of a disc-dominated [C II] emission line at z=4.6 in the luminous QSO J1554+1937, Amy E. Kimball (CSIRO), Mark Lacy (NRAO), Carol J. Lonsdale (NRAO), and J.-P. Macquart (ICRAR, Curtin), 2015 MNRAS, 452, 88 (published online 1 July 2015).