Cool Interstellar Medium as an Evolutionary Tracer in ALMA-Observed Local Dusty Early-Type Galaxies

Glass, David Henry william orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3666-5341, Sansom, Anne E orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2782-7388, Davis, Timothy A and Popescu, Cristina C orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7866-702X (2022) Cool Interstellar Medium as an Evolutionary Tracer in ALMA-Observed Local Dusty Early-Type Galaxies. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society . ISSN 0035-8711

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The content and distribution of cool interstellar medium (ISM, <30K) can indicate the evolutionary mechanisms that transform late-type to early-type galaxies (ETGs). To investigate this, ALMA observations of 12CO[2-1] line emission were obtained for five dusty ETGs from a complete sample in low-density environments. Four of the ETGs have massive (∼109 M⊙), extended molecular gas reservoirs with effective radii ∼3-5 kpc. This work provides a kinematic and structural analysis of these observations, to explore possible evolutionary mechanisms. Axisymmetric or bisymmetric kinematic models were fitted to observations of molecular gas discs, to quantify the dominant structures present and highlight additional structures or asymmetries. Integral Field Unit (IFU) observations of these ETGs were also examined where available. Two of the ETGs, GAMA64646 and 622305, appear to have undergone tidal disturbance leading to molecular gas discs and/or star-forming inner rings. GAMA272990 may have undergone a merger, leading to an elliptical galaxy with an embedded star-forming molecular gas disc. GAMA622429 has probably undergone a minor merger, indicated by asymmetry in molecular gas distribution and disturbance in optical images. The remaining ETG, GAMA177186, was affected by source confusion from an offset source which could be a high-mass, dust- and gas-rich object at high redshift. Overall, it appears that a high proportion of dusty ETGs in low-density environments have massive, extended molecular gas reservoirs, and have undergone some kind of interaction as part of their recent evolution. Secular evolution can then (re-)transform the ETGs from star-forming to passive galaxies.

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