The energetic activity in the nuclear barred region of NGC 253 is attributable to a burst of star formation. NGC 253 is in many ways a twin of the prototypical starburst galaxy M82; the strong non-thermal radio continuum, high far-infrared luminosity, and bright molecular emission of the central 1 Kpc parallel the morphology of the M82 starburst. Furthermore, the filamentary low ionization optical emission and extended x ray emission along the minor axis in NGC 253 is similar to a scaled down version of the well developed galactic bipolar wind in M82. The infrared luminosity of NGC 253, 3(exp 10) solar luminosity, is comparable to M82 but is emitted from a smaller region (Telesco and Harper 1980). This suggests that the NGC 253 starburst may be more intense and at an earlier evolutionary stage than M82. However, the presence of a non-stellar AGN in NGC 253 may complicate the comparison (Turner and Ho, 1985). Researchers used the Hat Creek millimeter interferometer to map emission from the J = 1 to 0 transitions of HCN and HCO(+) as well as 3 mm continuum emission, toward the nuclear region of NGC 253. The HCO(+) and continuum observations are sensitive to spatial scales from 6 to 45 seconds. The 2 minute field of view comfortably includes the entire starburst region (about 40 seconds; 650 pc). Because the longer baseline HCN observations are not yet complete, they are only sensitive to spatial scales from 15 to 45 seconds.
NASA, Ames Research Center, The Interstellar Medium in External Galaxies: Summaries of Contributed Papers; p 337-339