The under-abundance of very massive galaxies1,2 in the Universe is frequently attributed to the effect of galactic winds3,4,5,6. Although ionized galactic winds are readily observable, most of the expelled mass (that is, the total mass flowing out from the nuclear region) is likely to be in atomic7,8 and molecular phases9,10,11 that are cooler than the ionized phases. Expanding molecular shells observed in starburst systems such as NGC 253 (ref. 12) and M 82 (refs 13, 14) may facilitate the entrainment of molecular gas in the wind. Although shell properties are well constrained12, determining the amount of outflowing gas emerging from such shells and the connection between this gas and the ionized wind requires spatial resolution better than 100 parsecs coupled with sensitivity to a wide range of spatial scales, a combination hitherto not available. Here we report observations of NGC 253, a nearby15 starburst galaxy (distance ∼ 3.4 megaparsecs) known to possess a wind16,17,18,19,20, that trace the cool molecular wind at 50-parsec resolution. At this resolution, the extraplanar molecular gas closely tracks the Hα filaments, and it appears to be connected to expanding molecular shells located in the starburst region. These observations allow us to determine that the molecular outflow rate is greater than 3 solar masses per year and probably about 9 solar masses per year. This implies a ratio of mass-outflow rate to star-formation rate of at least 1, and probably ∼3, indicating that the starburst-driven wind limits the star-formation activity and the final stellar content.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Baldry, I. K., Glazebrook, K. & Driver, S. P. On the galaxy stellar mass function, the mass-metallicity relation and the implied baryonic mass function. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 388, 945–959 (2008)
Somerville, R. S., Hopkins, P. F., Cox, T. J., Robertson, B. E. & Hernquist, L. A semi-analytic model for the co-evolution of galaxies, black holes and active galactic nuclei. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 391, 481–506 (2008)
Veilleux, S., Cecil, G. & Bland-Hawthorn, J. Galactic winds. Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 43, 769–826 (2005)
Davé, R., Oppenheimer, B. D. & Finlator, K. Galaxy evolution in cosmological simulations with outflows — I. Stellar masses and star formation rates. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 415, 11–31 (2011)
Oppenheimer, B. D. et al. Feedback and recycled wind accretion: assembling the z = 0 galaxy mass function. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 406, 2325–2338 (2010)
Hopkins, P. F., Quataert, E. & Murray, N. Stellar feedback in galaxies and the origin of galaxy-scale winds. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 421, 3522–3537 (2012)
Rupke, D. S., Veilleux, S. & Sanders, D. B. Outflows in active galactic nucleus/starburst-composite ultraluminous infrared galaxies. Astrophys. J. 632, 751–780 (2005)
Rupke, D. S. N. & Veilleux, S. The multiphase structure and power sources of galactic winds in major mergers. Astrophys. J. (in the press); preprint at http://arXiv.org/abs/1303.6866 (2013)
Walter, F., Weiss, A. & Scoville, N. Molecular gas in M82: resolving the outflow and streamers. Astrophys. J. 580, L21–L25 (2002)
Feruglio, C. et al. Quasar feedback revealed by giant molecular outflows. Astron. Astrophys. 518, L155–L158 (2010)
Alatalo, K. et al. Discovery of an active galactic nucleus driven molecular outflow in the local early-type galaxy NGC 1266. Astrophys. J. 735, 88–99 (2011)
Sakamoto, K. et al. Molecular superbubbles in the starburst galaxy NGC 253. Astrophys. J. 636, 685–697 (2006)
Weiss, A., Walter, F., Neininger, N. & Klein, U. Evidence for an expanding molecular superbubble in M 82. Astron. Astrophys. 345, L23–L25 (1999)
Matsushita, S. et al. Starburst at the expanding molecular superbubble in M82: self-induced starburst at the inner edge of the superbubble. Astrophys. J. 618, 712–722 (2005)
Dalcanton, J. J. et al. The ACS nearby galaxy survey treasury. Astrophys. J. Suppl. Ser. 183, 67–108 (2009)
Strickland, D. K., Heckman, T. M., Weaver, K. A. & Dahlem, M. Chandra observations of NGC 253: new insights into the nature of starburst-driven superwinds. Astron. J. 120, 2965–2974 (2000)
Strickland, D. K., Heckman, T. M., Weaver, K. A., Hoopes, C. G. & Dahlem, M. Chandra observations of NGC 253. II. On the origin of diffuse X-ray emission in the halos of starburst galaxies. Astrophys. J. 568, 689–716 (2002)
Westmoquette, M. S., Smith, L. J. & Gallagher, J. S., III Spatially resolved optical integral field unit spectroscopy of the inner superwind of NGC 253. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 414, 3719–3739 (2011)
Heckman, T. M., Lehnert, M. D., Strickland, D. K. & Armus, L. Absorption-line probes of gas and dust in galactic superwinds. Astrophys. J. Suppl. Ser. 129, 493–516 (2000)
Sugai, H., Davies, R. I. & Ward, M. J. The collimated wind in NGC 253. Astrophys. J. 584, L9–L12 (2003)
Forbes, D. A., Polehampton, E., Stevens, I. R., Brodie, J. P. & Ward, M. J. A multiwavelength view at the heart of the superwind in NGC253. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 312, 689–697 (2000)
Weaver, K. A., Heckman, T. M., Strickland, D. K. & Dahlem, M. Chandra observations of the evolving core of the starburst galaxy NGC 253. Astrophys. J. 576, L19–L23 (2002)
Sturm, E. et al. Massive molecular outflows and negative feedback in ULIRGs observed by Herschel-PACS. Astrophys. J. 733, L16–L20 (2011)
Sakamoto, K. et al. Star-forming cloud complexes in the central molecular zone of NGC 253. Astrophys. J. 735, 19–30 (2011)
McCray, R. & Kafatos, M. Supershells and propagating star formation. Astrophys. J. 317, 190–196 (1987)
Alonso-Herrero, A., Rieke, G. H., Rieke, M. J. & Kelly, D. M. The [Fe II] 1.644 micron emission in M82 and NGC 253: is it a measure of the supernova rate? Astron. J. 125, 1210–1225 (2003)
Ulvestad, J. S. & Antonucci, R. R. J. VLA observations of NGC 253: supernova remnants and H II regions at 1 parsec resolution. Astrophys. J. 488, 621–641 (1997)
Ott, J., Weiss, A., Henkel, C. & Walter, F. The temperature distribution of dense molecular gas in the center of NGC 253. Astrophys. J. 629, 767–780 (2005)
Young, J. S. et al. The FCRAO extragalactic CO survey. I. The data. Astrophys. J. Suppl. Ser. 98, 219–257 (1995)
Tumlinson, J. et al. The large, oxygen-rich halos of star-forming galaxies are a major reservoir of galactic metals. Science 334, 948–952 (2011)
A.D.B. acknowledges partial support from a CAREER grant NSF-AST0955836, NSF-AST1139998 and from a Research Corporation for Science Advancement Cottrell Scholar award. S.V. acknowledges partial support through grant NSF-AST100958. E.C.O. is supported by the NSF through grant AST-0908185. ALMA is a partnership of ESO (representing its member states), NSF (USA) and NINS (Japan), together with NRC (Canada) and NSC and ASIAA (Taiwan), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The Joint ALMA Observatory is operated by ESO, AUI/NRAO and NAOJ. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the NSF operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. We thank M. Lehnert for providing the Hα image, processed by himself and M. Dahlem.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
This paper makes use of the following ALMA data: ADS/JAO.ALMA#2011.0.00172.S.
About this article
Cite this article
Bolatto, A., Warren, S., Leroy, A. et al. Suppression of star formation in the galaxy NGC 253 by a starburst-driven molecular wind. Nature 499, 450–453 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature12351
The Astronomy and Astrophysics Review (2020)