Detailed CO observations of the galaxy merger NGC 6240

9 January 2020

Molecular gas is understood to be a critical ingredient in the formation of new stars, but the overall physics of star formation is still not well understood. Star formation can be studied in detail in our own galaxy, but has until recently been difficult to study to the same level of detail in other galaxies. The capabilities of the ALMA radio telescope are now enabling studies of the molecular gas in other galaxies at the physical scales of individual molecular clouds. We have recently studied the “The Molecular Gas in the NGC 6240 Merging Galaxy System…” (Treister+) with the highest resolutions available with the ALMA radio telescope. This paper, now accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal, describes the highly resolved molecular gas of this enigmatic galaxy merger and describes the potential identification of remnants of supernovae, as well as properties of a previously known molecular wind which is moving away from the center of the galaxy. A preprint of the paper is now available. These same data were previously used to study the black hole fueling in this same system.