The Effect of Galaxy Interactions on Molecular Gas Properties

Hsi An Pan, Lihwai Lin, Bau Ching Hsieh, Ting Xiao, Yang Gao, Sara L. Ellison, Jillian M. Scudder, Jorge Barrera-Ballesteros, Fangting Yuan, Amélie Saintonge, Christine D. Wilson, Ho Seong Hwang, Ilse De Looze, Yu Gao, Luis C. Ho, Elias Brinks, Angus Mok, Toby Brown, Timothy A. Davis, Thomas G. WilliamsAeree Chung, Harriet Parsons, Martin Bureau, Mark T. Sargent, Eun Jung Chung, Eunbin Kim, Tie Liu, Michał J. Michałowski, Tomoka Tosaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Galaxy interactions are often accompanied by an enhanced star formation rate (SFR). Since molecular gas is essential for star formation, it is vital to establish whether and by how much galaxy interactions affect the molecular gas properties. We investigate the effect of interactions on global molecular gas properties by studying a sample of 58 galaxies in pairs and 154 control galaxies. Molecular gas properties are determined from observations with the JCMT, PMO, and CSO telescopes and supplemented with data from the xCOLD GASS and JINGLE surveys at 12CO(1-0) and 12CO(2-1). The SFR, gas mass (), and gas fraction (f gas) are all enhanced in galaxies in pairs by ∼2.5 times compared to the controls matched in redshift, mass, and effective radius, while the enhancement of star formation efficiency (SFE ≡SFR/) is less than a factor of 2. We also find that the enhancements in SFR, and f gas, increase with decreasing pair separation and are larger in systems with smaller stellar mass ratio. Conversely, the SFE is only enhanced in close pairs (separation <20 kpc) and equal-mass systems; therefore, most galaxies in pairs lie in the same parameter space on the SFR- plane as controls. This is the first time that the dependence of molecular gas properties on merger configurations is probed statistically with a relatively large sample and a carefully selected control sample for individual galaxies. We conclude that galaxy interactions do modify the molecular gas properties, although the strength of the effect is dependent on merger configuration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number132
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey IV has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, and the Participating Institutions. The SDSS acknowledges support and resources from the Center for High-Performance Computing at the University of Utah. The SDSS website is

Funding Information:
We thank the anonymous referee for helpful suggestions that improved the paper. The work is supported by the Academia Sinica under the Career Development Award AS-CDA-107-M03 and the Ministry of Science & Technology of Taiwan under the grant MOST 107-2119-M-001-024-. C.D.W. acknowledges support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Y.G. acknowledges the support of National Key R&D Program of China No. 2017YFA0402704, NSFC No. 11420101002, and the CAS Key Research Program of Frontier Sciences. L.C.H. was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (2016YFA0400702) and the National Science Foundation of China (11473002, 11721303). E.B. acknowledges support from the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council [grant No. ST/M001008/1]. M.J.M.acknowledges the support of the National Science Centre, Poland, through POLONEZ grant 2015/19/P/ST9/04010; this project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 665778.

Funding Information:
The James Clerk Maxwell Telescope is operated by the East Asian Observatory on behalf of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan; the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics; the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute; and the Operation, Maintenance and Upgrading Fund for Astronomical Telescopes and Facility Instruments, budgeted from the Ministry of Finance (MOF) of China and administrated by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), as well as the National Key R&D Program of China (No. 2017YFA0402700). Additional funding support is provided by the Science and Technology Facilities Council of the United Kingdom and participating universities in the United Kingdom and Canada. This material is based upon work at the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, which is operated by the California Institute of Technology.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved..

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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