New paper on ALMA observations of early-type galaxies

Graduate student Benjamin Boizelle’s paper on ALMA observations of early-type galaxies was recently accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal. The paper presents observations of carbon monoxide line emission from dense molecular disks in the centers of 7 elliptical and lenticular galaxies, and describes the physical properties of these disks, which typically contain about 100 million Solar masses of molecular gas. One of our conclusions is that the disks are stable against gravitational fragmentation: because of a high rotational shear in the disks, it’s not easy for clumps to collapse and form stars in these systems. The next step will be to carry out dynamical modeling of the ALMA data to determine the masses of the central black holes in these galaxies, and Ben was recently awarded Hubble Space Telescope observing time to obtain near-infrared images of these galaxies in order to measure the distribution of stellar mass accurately, which is essential for the black hole mass measurement. Ben’s paper is posted at arxiv:1707.08229.