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  1. Abstract

    In this work, we constrain the star-forming properties of all possible sites of incipient high-mass star formation in the Milky Way’s Galactic Center. We identify dense structures using the CMZoom 1.3 mm dust continuum catalog of objects with typical radii of ∼0.1 pc, and measure their association with tracers of high-mass star formation. We incorporate compact emission at 8, 21, 24, 25, and 70μm from the Midcourse Space Experiment, Spitzer, Herschel, and SOFIA, cataloged young stellar objects, and water and methanol masers to characterize each source. We find an incipient star formation rate (SFR) for the Central Molecular Zone (CMZ) of ∼0.08Myr−1over the next few 105yr. We calculate upper and lower limits on the CMZ’s incipient SFR of ∼0.45 and ∼0.05Myr−1,respectively, spanning roughly equal to and several times greater than other estimates of CMZ’s recent SFR. Despite substantial uncertainties, our results suggest the incipient SFR in the CMZ may be higher than previously estimated. We find that the prevalence of star formation tracers does not correlate with source volume density, but instead ≳75% of high-mass star formation is found in regions above a column density ratio (NSMA/NHerschel) of ∼1.5. Finally, we highlight the detection ofatoll sources, a reoccurring morphology of cold dust encircling evolved infrared sources, possibly representing Hiiregions in the process of destroying their envelopes.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2025

    We present an overview and data release of the spectral line component of the SMA Large Program, CMZoom. CMZoom observed 12CO (2–1), 13CO (2–1), and C18O (2–1), three transitions of H2CO, several transitions of CH3OH, two transitions of OCS, and single transitions of SiO and SO within gas above a column density of N(H2) ≥ 1023 cm−2 in the Central Molecular Zone (CMZ; inner few hundred pc of the Galaxy). We extract spectra from all compact 1.3 mm CMZoom continuum sources and fit line profiles to the spectra. We use the fit results from the H2CO 3(0, 3)–2(0, 2) transition to determine the source kinematic properties. We find ∼90 per cent of the total mass of CMZoom sources have reliable kinematics. Only four compact continuum sources are formally self-gravitating. The remainder are consistent with being in hydrostatic equilibrium assuming that they are confined by the high external pressure in the CMZ. We find only two convincing proto-stellar outflows, ruling out a previously undetected population of very massive, actively accreting YSOs with strong outflows. Finally, despite having sufficient sensitivity and resolution to detect high-velocity compact clouds (HVCCs), which have been claimed as evidence for intermediate mass black holes interacting with molecular gas clouds, we find no such objects across the large survey area.

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  3. Abstract

    The center of the nearby galaxy NGC 253 hosts a population of more than a dozen super star clusters (SSCs) that are still in the process of forming. The majority of the star formation of the burst is concentrated in these SSCs, and the starburst is powering a multiphase outflow from the galaxy. In this work, we measure the 350 GHz dust continuum emission toward the center of NGC 253 at 47 mas (0.8 pc) resolution using data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. We report the detection of 350 GHz (dust) continuum emission in the outflow for the first time, associated with the prominent South-West streamer. In this feature, the dust emission has a width of ≈8 pc, is located at the outer edge of the CO emission, and corresponds to a molecular gas mass of ∼(8–17)×106M. In the starburst nucleus, we measure the resolved radial profiles, sizes, and molecular gas masses of the SSCs. Compared to previous work at the somewhat lower spatial resolution, the SSCs here break apart into smaller substructures with radii 0.4–0.7 pc. In projection, the SSCs, dust, and dense molecular gas appear to be arranged as a thin, almost linear, structure roughly 155 pc in length. The morphology and kinematics of this structure can be well explained as gas followingx2orbits at the center of a barred potential. We constrain the morpho-kinematic arrangement of the SSCs themselves, finding that an elliptical, angular-momentum-conserving ring is a good description of both the morphology and kinematics of the SSCs.

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  4. Abstract We present the ALMA detection of molecular outflowing gas in the central regions of NGC 4945, one of the nearest starbursts and also one of the nearest hosts of an active galactic nucleus (AGN). We detect four outflow plumes in CO J = 3 − 2 at ∼0.″3 resolution that appear to correspond to molecular gas located near the edges of the known ionized outflow cone and its (unobserved) counterpart behind the disk. The fastest and brightest of these plumes has emission reaching observed line-of-sight projected velocities of over 450 km s −1 beyond systemic, equivalent to an estimated physical outflow velocity v ≳ 600 km s −1 for the fastest emission. Most of these plumes have corresponding emission in HCN or HCO + J = 4 − 3. We discuss a kinematic model for the outflow emission where the molecular gas has the geometry of the ionized gas cone and shares the rotation velocity of the galaxy when ejected. We use this model to explain the velocities we observe, constrain the physical speed of the ejected material, and account for the fraction of outflowing gas that is not detected due to confusion with the galaxy disk. We estimate a total molecular mass outflow rate M ̇ mol ∼ 20 M ⊙ yr −1 flowing through a surface within 100 pc of the disk midplane, likely driven by a combination of the central starburst and AGN. 
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    Young massive clusters (YMCs) are compact (≲1 pc), high-mass (>104 M⊙) stellar systems of significant scientific interest. Due to their rarity and rapid formation, we have very few examples of YMC progenitor gas clouds before star formation has begun. As a result, the initial conditions required for YMC formation are uncertain. We present high resolution (0.13 arcsec, ∼1000 au) ALMA observations and Mopra single-dish data, showing that Galactic Centre dust ridge ‘Cloud d’ (G0.412 + 0.052, mass = 7.6 × 104 M⊙, radius = 3.2 pc) has the potential to become an Arches-like YMC (104 M⊙, r ∼ 1 pc), but is not yet forming stars. This would mean it is the youngest known pre-star-forming massive cluster and therefore could be an ideal laboratory for studying the initial conditions of YMC formation. We find 96 sources in the dust continuum, with masses ≲3 M⊙ and radii of ∼103 au. The source masses and separations are more consistent with thermal rather than turbulent fragmentation. It is not possible to unambiguously determine the dynamical state of most of the sources, as the uncertainty on virial parameter estimates is large. We find evidence for large-scale (∼1 pc) converging gas flows, which could cause the cloud to grow rapidly, gaining 104 M⊙ within 105 yr. The highest density gas is found at the convergent point of the large-scale flows. We expect this cloud to form many high-mass stars, but find no high-mass starless cores. If the sources represent the initial conditions for star formation, the resulting initial mass function will be bottom heavy.

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    G0.253+0.016, commonly referred to as ‘the Brick’ and located within the Central Molecular Zone, is one of the densest (≈103–4 cm−3) molecular clouds in the Galaxy to lack signatures of widespread star formation. We set out to constrain the origins of an arc-shaped molecular line emission feature located within the cloud. We determine that the arc, centred on $\lbrace l_{0},b_{0}\rbrace =\lbrace 0{_{.}^{\circ}} 248,\, 0{_{.}^{\circ}} 018\rbrace$, has a radius of 1.3 pc and kinematics indicative of the presence of a shell expanding at $5.2^{+2.7}_{-1.9}$ $\mathrm{\, km\, s}^{-1}$. Extended radio continuum emission fills the arc cavity and recombination line emission peaks at a similar velocity to the arc, implying that the molecular gas and ionized gas are physically related. The inferred Lyman continuum photon rate is NLyC = 1046.0–1047.9 photons s−1, consistent with a star of spectral type B1-O8.5, corresponding to a mass of ≈12–20 M⊙. We explore two scenarios for the origin of the arc: (i) a partial shell swept up by the wind of an interloper high-mass star and (ii) a partial shell swept up by stellar feedback resulting from in situ star formation. We favour the latter scenario, finding reasonable (factor of a few) agreement between its morphology, dynamics, and energetics and those predicted for an expanding bubble driven by the wind from a high-mass star. The immediate implication is that G0.253+0.016 may not be as quiescent as is commonly accepted. We speculate that the cloud may have produced a ≲103 M⊙ star cluster ≳0.4 Myr ago, and demonstrate that the high-extinction and stellar crowding observed towards G0.253+0.016 may help to obscure such a star cluster from detection.

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    ABSTRACT G0.253+0.016, aka ‘the Brick’, is one of the most massive (>105 M⊙) and dense (>104 cm−3) molecular clouds in the Milky Way’s Central Molecular Zone. Previous observations have detected tentative signs of active star formation, most notably a water maser that is associated with a dust continuum source. We present ALMA Band 6 observations with an angular resolution of 0.13 arcsec (1000 AU) towards this ‘maser core’ and report unambiguous evidence of active star formation within G0.253+0.016. We detect a population of eighteen continuum sources (median mass ∼2 M⊙), nine of which are driving bi-polar molecular outflows as seen via SiO (5–4) emission. At the location of the water maser, we find evidence for a protostellar binary/multiple with multidirectional outflow emission. Despite the high density of G0.253+0.016, we find no evidence for high-mass protostars in our ALMA field. The observed sources are instead consistent with a cluster of low-to-intermediate-mass protostars. However, the measured outflow properties are consistent with those expected for intermediate-to-high-mass star formation. We conclude that the sources are young and rapidly accreting, and may potentially form intermediate- and high-mass stars in the future. The masses and projected spatial distribution of the cores are generally consistent with thermal fragmentation, suggesting that the large-scale turbulence and strong magnetic field in the cloud do not dominate on these scales, and that star formation on the scale of individual protostars is similar to that in Galactic disc environments. 
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