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  1. The morphology of the Milky Way is still a matter of debate. In order to shed light on uncertainties surrounding the structure of the Galaxy, in this paper, we study the imprint of spiral arms on the distribution and properties of its molecular gas. To do so, we take full advantage of the SEDIGISM (Structure, Excitation, and Dynamics of the Inner Galactic Interstellar Medium) survey that observed a large area of the inner Galaxy in the 13 CO (2–1) line at an angular resolution of 28′′. We analyse the influences of the spiral arms by considering the features of the molecular gas emission as a whole across the longitude–velocity map built from the full survey. Additionally, we examine the properties of the molecular clouds in the spiral arms compared to the properties of their counterparts in the inter-arm regions. Through flux and luminosity probability distribution functions, we find that the molecular gas emission associated with the spiral arms does not differ significantly from the emission between the arms. On average, spiral arms show masses per unit length of ~10 5 –10 6 M ⊙ kpc −1 . This is similar to values inferred from data sets in which emission distributions were segmented into molecular clouds. By examining the cloud distribution across the Galactic plane, we infer that the molecular mass in the spiral arms is a factor of 1.5 higher than that of the inter-arm medium, similar to what is found for other spiral galaxies in the local Universe. We observe that only the distributions of cloud mass surface densities and aspect ratio in the spiral arms show significant differences compared to those of the inter-arm medium; other observed differences appear instead to be driven by a distance bias. By comparing our results with simulations and observations of nearby galaxies, we conclude that the measured quantities would classify the Milky Way as a flocculent spiral galaxy, rather than as a grand-design one. 
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  2. null (Ed.)
    Context. Recent surveys of the Galactic plane in the dust continuum and CO emission lines reveal that large (≳50 pc) and massive (≳10 5 M ⊙ ) filaments, know as giant molecular filaments (GMFs), may be linked to Galactic dynamics and trace the mid-plane of the gravitational potential in the Milky Way. Yet our physical understanding of GMFs is still poor. Aims. We investigate the dense gas properties of one GMF, with the ultimate goal of connecting these dense gas tracers with star formation processes in the GMF. Methods. We imaged one entire GMF located at l ~ 52–54° longitude, GMF54 (~68 pc long), in the empirical dense gas tracers using the HCN(1–0), HNC(1–0), and HCO + (1–0) lines, and their 13 C isotopologue transitions, as well as the N 2 H + (1–0) line. We studied the dense gas distribution, the column density probability density functions (N-PDFs), and the line ratios within the GMF. Results. The dense gas molecular transitions follow the extended structure of the filament with area filling factors between 0.06 and 0.28 with respect to 13 CO(1–0). We constructed the N-PDFs of H 2 for each of the dense gas tracers based on their column densities and assumed uniform abundance. The N-PDFs of the dense gas tracers appear curved in log–log representation, and the HCO + N-PDF has the flattest power-law slope index. Studying the N-PDFs for sub-regions of GMF54, we found an evolutionary trend in the N-PDFs that high-mass star-forming and photon-dominated regions have flatter power-law indices. The integrated intensity ratios of the molecular lines in GMF54 are comparable to those in nearby galaxies. In particular, the N 2 H + / 13 CO ratio, which traces the dense gas fraction, has similar values in GMF54 and all nearby galaxies except Ultraluminous Infrared Galaxies. Conclusions. As the largest coherent cold gaseous structure in our Milky Way, GMFs, are outstanding candidates for connecting studies of star formation on Galactic and extragalactic scales. By analyzing a complete map of the dense gas in a GMF we have found that: (1) the dense gas N-PDFs appear flatter in more evolved regions and steeper in younger regions, and (2) its integrated dense gas intensity ratios are similar to those of nearby galaxies. 
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  3. Context. The Central Molecular Zone (CMZ), a ∼200 pc sized region around the Galactic Centre, is peculiar in that it shows a star formation rate (SFR) that is suppressed with respect to the available dense gas. To study the SFR in the CMZ, young stellar objects (YSOs) can be investigated. Here we present radio observations of 334 2.2 μm infrared sources that have been identified as YSO candidates. Aims: Our goal is to investigate the presence of centimetre wavelength radio continuum counterparts to this sample of YSO candidates which we use to constrain the current SFR in the CMZ. Methods: As part of the GLObal view on STAR formation (GLOSTAR) survey, D-configuration Very Large Array data were obtained for the Galactic Centre, covering −2° < l < 2° and −1° < b < 1° with a frequency coverage of 4-8 GHz. We matched YSOs with radio continuum sources based on selection criteria and classified these radio sources as potential H II regions and determined their physical properties. Results: Of the 334 YSO candidates, we found 35 with radio continuum counterparts. We find that 94 YSOs are associated with dense dust condensations identified in the 870 μm ATLASGAL survey, of which 14 have a GLOSTAR counterpart. Of the 35 YSOs with radio counterparts, 11 are confirmed as H II regions based on their spectral indices and the literature. We estimated their Lyman continuum photon flux in order to estimate the mass of the ionising star. Combining these with known sources, the present-day SFR in the CMZ is calculated to be ∼0.068 M⊙ yr−1, which is ∼6.8% of the Galactic SFR. Candidate YSOs that lack radio counterparts may not have yet evolved to the stage of exhibiting an H II region or, conversely, are older and have dispersed their natal clouds. Since many lack dust emission, the latter is more likely. Our SFR estimate in the CMZ is in agreement with previous estimates in the literature. 
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  4. By combining two surveys covering a large fraction of the molecular material in the Galactic disc, we investigate the role spiral arms play in the star formation process. We have matched clumps identified by APEX Telescope Large Area Survey of the Galaxy (ATLASGAL) with their parental giant molecular clouds (GMCs) as identified by SEDIGISM, and use these GMC masses, the bolometric luminosities, and integrated clump masses obtained in a concurrent paper to estimate the dense gas fractions (DGFgmc = ∑Mclump/Mgmc) and the instantaneous star formation efficiencies (i.e. SFEgmc = ∑Lclump/Mgmc). We find that the molecular material associated with ATLASGAL clumps is concentrated in the spiral arms (∼60 per cent found within ±10 kms−1 of an arm). We have searched for variations in the values of these physical parameters with respect to their proximity to the spiral arms, but find no evidence for any enhancement that might be attributable to the spiral arms. The combined results from a number of similar studies based on different surveys indicate that, while spiral-arm location plays a role in cloud formation and H I to H2 conversion, the subsequent star formation processes appear to depend more on local environment effects. This leads us to conclude that the enhanced star formation activity seen towards the spiral arms is the result of source crowding rather than the consequence of any physical process. 
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    The SEDIGISM (Structure, Excitation and Dynamics of the Inner Galactic Interstellar Medium) survey used the APEX telescope to map 84 deg2 of the Galactic plane between ℓ = −60° and +31° in several molecular transitions, including 13CO (2 – 1) and C18O (2 – 1), thus probing the moderately dense (∼103 cm−3) component of the interstellar medium. With an angular resolution of 30 arcsec and a typical 1σ sensitivity of 0.8–1.0 K at 0.25 km s−1 velocity resolution, it gives access to a wide range of structures, from individual star-forming clumps to giant molecular clouds and complexes. The coverage includes a good fraction of the first and fourth Galactic quadrants, allowing us to constrain the large-scale distribution of cold molecular gas in the inner Galaxy. In this paper, we provide an updated overview of the full survey and the data reduction procedures used. We also assess the quality of these data and describe the data products that are being made publicly available as part of this First Data Release (DR1). We present integrated maps and position–velocity maps of the molecular gas and use these to investigate the correlation between the molecular gas and the large-scale structural features of the Milky Way such as the spiral arms, Galactic bar and Galactic Centre. We find that approximately 60 per cent of the molecular gas is associated with the spiral arms and these appear as strong intensity peaks in the derived Galactocentric distribution. We also find strong peaks in intensity at specific longitudes that correspond to the Galactic Centre and well-known star-forming complexes, revealing that the 13CO emission is concentrated in a small number of complexes rather than evenly distributed along spiral arms.

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