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CO(1-0) in z gtrsim 4 Quasar Host Galaxies: No Evidence for Extended Molecular Gas Reservoirs

We present 12CO(J = 1 → 0) observations of the high-redshift quasi-stellar objects (QSOs) BR 1202-0725 (z = 4.69), PSS J2322+1944 (z = 4.12), and APM 08279+5255 (z = 3.91) using the NRAO Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and the MPIfR Effelsberg 100 m telescope. We detect, for the first time, the CO ground-level transition in BR 1202-0725. For PSS J2322+1944 and APM 08279+5255, our observations result in line fluxes that are consistent with previous NRAO Very Large Array (VLA) observations, but they reveal the full line profiles. We report a typical lensing-corrected velocity-integrated intrinsic 12CO(J = 1 → 0) line luminosity of L = 5 × 1010 K km s-1 pc2 and a typical total H2 mass of M(H2) = 4 × 1010 M for the sources in our sample. The CO/FIR luminosity ratios of these high-z sources follow the same trend as seen for low-z galaxies, leading to a combined solution of log LFIR = (1.39 ± 0.05) log LCO - 1.76. It has previously been suggested that the molecular gas reservoirs in some quasar host galaxies may exhibit luminous, extended 12 CO(J = 1 → 0) components that are not observed in the higher J CO transitions. Using the line profiles and the total intensities of our observations and large velocity gradient (LVG) models based on previous results for higher J CO transitions, we derive that emission from all CO transitions is described well by a single gas component in which all molecular gas is concentrated in a compact nuclear region. Thus, our observations and models show no indication of a luminous extended, low surface brightness molecular gas component in any of the high-redshift QSOs in our sample. If such extended components exist, their contribution to the overall luminosity is limited to at most 30%.