CO^(12) mapping of the low-metallicity blue compact dwarf galaxy Markarian 86

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We have mapped the CO^12 J = 1-0 and J = 2-1 line emission in Markarian 86, one of the most metal-deficient blue compact dwarf galaxies so far detected in CO^12. The CO^12 emission is distributed in a horseshoe-like structure that follows the locus of the most recent star formation regions. The minimum in molecular line emission corresponds to the position of an older, massive nuclear starburst. The H_2 mass of the galaxy [in the range of (0.4-5) x 10^7 M_⨀] and its morphology have been compared with the predictions of hydrodynamic simulations of the evolution of the interstellar medium surrounding a nuclear starburst. These simulations suggest that the physical conditions in the gas swept out by the starburst could have led to the formation of the ring of molecular gas reported here. This result provides an attractive scenario for explaining the propagation (in a galactic scale) of the star formation in dwarf galaxies.
© 2002. The American Astronomical Society. We are grateful to the IRAM 30 m MRT staff for their support and hospitality. A. G. d. P. acknowledges financial support from NASA through a Long Term Space Astrophysics grant to B. F. M. We also thank the referee for his/her valuable comments, which have led to substantial improvements to this Letter. S. A. S. is supported by the CONACYT (Mexico) grant 36132- E. J. Z. and J. G. are supported by the Spanish Programa Nacional de Astronomía y Astrofísica under grant AYA2000-1790. The research described in this Letter was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
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