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  1. ABSTRACT ATLASGAL is an 870-µm dust survey of 420 deg2 the inner Galactic plane and has been used to identify ∼10 000 dense molecular clumps. Dedicated follow-up observations and complementary surveys are used to characterize the physical properties of these clumps, map their Galactic distribution, and investigate the evolutionary sequence for high-mass star formation. The analysis of the ATLASGAL data is ongoing: We present an up-to-date version of the catalogue. We have classified 5007 clumps into four evolutionary stages (quiescent, protostellar, young stellar objects and H ii regions) and find similar numbers of clumps in each stage, suggesting a similar lifetime. The luminosity-to-mass (Lbol/Mfwhm) ratio curve shows a smooth distribution with no significant kinks or discontinuities when compared to the mean values for evolutionary stages indicating that the star formation process is continuous and that the observational stages do not represent fundamentally different stages or changes in the physical mechanisms involved. We compare the evolutionary sample with other star formation tracers (methanol and water masers, extended green objects and molecular outflows) and find that the association rates with these increases as a function of evolutionary stage, confirming that our classification is reliable. This also reveals a high association rate between quiescent sourcesmore »and molecular outflows, revealing that outflows are the earliest indication that star formation has begun and that star formation is already ongoing in many of the clumps that are dark even at 70 µm.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 11, 2023
  2. 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 distributionsmore »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.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  3. 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 densitiesmore »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.« less
  4. ABSTRACT The current generation of (sub)mm-telescopes has allowed molecular line emission to become a major tool for studying the physical, kinematic, and chemical properties of extragalactic systems, yet exploiting these observations requires a detailed understanding of where emission lines originate within the Milky Way. In this paper, we present 60 arcsec (∼3 pc) resolution observations of many 3 mm band molecular lines across a large map of the W49 massive star-forming region (∼100 pc × 100 pc at 11 kpc), which were taken as part of the ‘LEGO’ IRAM-30m large project. We find that the spatial extent or brightness of the molecular line transitions are not well correlated with their critical densities, highlighting abundance and optical depth must be considered when estimating line emission characteristics. We explore how the total emission and emission efficiency (i.e. line brightness per H2 column density) of the line emission vary as a function of molecular hydrogen column density and dust temperature. We find that there is not a single region of this parameter space responsible for the brightest and most efficiently emitting gas for all species. For example, we find that the HCN transition shows high emission efficiency at high column density (1022 cm−2) and moderate temperatures (35 K), whilst e.g.more »N2H+ emits most efficiently towards lower temperatures (1022 cm−2; <20 K). We determine $X_{\mathrm{CO} (1-0)} \sim 0.3 \times 10^{20} \, \mathrm{cm^{-2}\, (K\, km\, s^{-1})^{-1}}$, and $\alpha _{\mathrm{HCN} (1-0)} \sim 30\, \mathrm{M_\odot \, (K\, km\, s^{-1}\, pc^2)^{-1}}$, which both differ significantly from the commonly adopted values. In all, these results suggest caution should be taken when interpreting molecular line emission.« less