Dynamical masses in luminous infrared galaxies

J. L. Hinz, G. H. Rieke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


We have studied the dynamics and masses of a sample of 10 nearby luminous and ultraluminous infrared galaxies (LIRGs and ULIRGs, respectively) using 2.3 μm 12CO-absorption line spectroscopy and near-infrared H- and Ks-band imaging. By combining velocity dispersions derived from the spectroscopy, disk scale lengths obtained from the imaging, and a set of likely model density profiles, we calculate dynamical masses for each LIRG. For the majority of the sample, it is difficult to reconcile our mass estimates with the large amounts of gas derived from millimeter observations and from a standard conversion between 12CO emission and H2 mass. Our results imply that LIRGs do not have huge amounts of molecular gas (10 10-1011 M) at their centers and support previous indications that the standard conversion of 12CO to H 2 probably overestimates the gas masses and cannot be used in these environments. This in turn suggests much more modest levels of extinction in the near-infrared for LIRGs than previously predicted (Av ∼ 10-20 vs. Av ∼ 100-1000). The lower gas mass estimates indicated by our observations imply that the star formation efficiency in these systems is very high and is triggered by cloud-cloud collisions, shocks, and winds rather than by gravitational instabilities in circumnuclear gas disks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)872-880
Number of pages9
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Aug 1 2006


  • Galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
  • Galaxies: starburst
  • Galaxies: stellar content
  • Infrared: galaxies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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