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  1. Abstract The Galactic bar plays a critical role in the evolution of the Milky Way’s Central Molecular Zone (CMZ), driving gas toward the Galactic Center via gas flows known as dust lanes. To explore the interaction between the CMZ and the dust lanes, we run hydrodynamic simulations in arepo , modeling the potential of the Milky Way’s bar in the absence of gas self-gravity and star formation physics, and we study the flows of mass using Monte Carlo tracer particles. We estimate the efficiency of the inflow via the dust lanes, finding that only about a third (30% ± 12%) of the dust lanes’ mass initially accretes onto the CMZ, while the rest overshoots and accretes later. Given observational estimates of the amount of gas within the Milky Way’s dust lanes, this suggests that the true total inflow rate onto the CMZ is 0.8 ± 0.6 M ⊙ yr −1 . Clouds in this simulated CMZ have sudden peaks in their average density near the apocenter, where they undergo violent collisions with inflowing material. While these clouds tend to counter-rotate due to shear, co-rotating clouds occasionally occur due to the injection of momentum from collisions with inflowing material (∼52% aremore »strongly counter-rotating, and ∼7% are strongly co-rotating of the 44 cloud sample). We investigate the formation and evolution of these clouds, finding that they are fed by many discrete inflow events, providing a consistent source of gas to CMZ clouds even as they collapse and form stars.« less
  2. ABSTRACT We use hydrodynamical simulations to study the Milky Way’s central molecular zone (CMZ). The simulations include a non-equilibrium chemical network, the gas self-gravity, star formation, and supernova feedback. We resolve the structure of the interstellar medium at sub-parsec resolution while also capturing the interaction between the CMZ and the bar-driven large-scale flow out to $R\sim 5\, {\rm kpc}$. Our main findings are as follows: (1) The distinction between inner (R ≲ 120 pc) and outer (120 ≲ R ≲ 450 pc) CMZ that is sometimes proposed in the literature is unnecessary. Instead, the CMZ is best described as single structure, namely a star-forming ring with outer radius R ≃ 200 pc which includes the 1.3° complex and which is directly interacting with the dust lanes that mediate the bar-driven inflow. (2) This accretion can induce a significant tilt of the CMZ out of the plane. A tilted CMZ might provide an alternative explanation to the ∞-shaped structure identified in Herschel data by Molinari et al. (3) The bar in our simulation efficiently drives an inflow from the Galactic disc (R ≃ 3 kpc) down to the CMZ (R ≃ 200 pc) of the order of $1\rm \, M_\odot \, yr^{-1}$, consistent with observational determinations. (4) Supernova feedback canmore »drive an inflow from the CMZ inwards towards the circumnuclear disc of the order of ${\sim}0.03\, \rm M_\odot \, yr^{-1}$. (5) We give a new interpretation for the 3D placement of the 20 and 50 km s−1 clouds, according to which they are close (R ≲ 30 pc) to the Galactic Centre, but are also connected to the larger scale streams at R ≳ 100 pc.« less
  3. Abstract The Milky Way’s central molecular zone (CMZ) has emerged in recent years as a unique laboratory for the study of star formation. Here we use the simulations presented in Tress et al. 2020 to investigate star formation in the CMZ. These simulations resolve the structure of the interstellar medium at sub-parsec resolution while also including the large-scale flow in which the CMZ is embedded. Our main findings are as follows. (1) While most of the star formation happens in the CMZ ring at R ≳ 100 pc, a significant amount also occurs closer to SgrA* at R ≲ 10 pc. (2) Most of the star formation in the CMZ happens downstream of the apocentres, consistent with the “pearls-on-a-string” scenario, and in contrast to the notion that an absolute evolutionary timeline of star formation is triggered by pericentre passage. (3) Within the timescale of our simulations (∼100 Myr), the depletion time of the CMZ is constant within a factor of ∼2. This suggests that variations in the star formation rate are primarily driven by variations in the mass of the CMZ, caused for example by AGN feedback or externally-induced changes in the bar-driven inflow rate, and not by variations in the depletion time. (4)more »We study the trajectories of newly born stars in our simulations. We find several examples that have age and 3D velocity compatible with those of the Arches and Quintuplet clusters. Our simulations suggest that these prominent clusters originated near the collision sites where the bar-driven inflow accretes onto the CMZ, at symmetrical locations with respect to the Galactic centre, and that they have already decoupled from the gas in which they were born.« less

    We present here the first of a series of papers aimed at better understanding the evolution and properties of giant molecular clouds (GMCs) in a galactic context. We perform high-resolution, three-dimensional arepo simulations of an interacting galaxy inspired by the well-observed M51 galaxy. Our fiducial simulations include a non-equilibrium, time-dependent, chemical network that follows the evolution of atomic and molecular hydrogen as well as carbon and oxygen self-consistently. Our calculations also treat gas self-gravity and subsequent star formation (described by sink particles), and coupled supernova feedback. In the densest parts of the simulated interstellar medium (ISM), we reach sub-parsec resolution, granting us the ability to resolve individual GMCs and their formation and destruction self-consistently throughout the galaxy. In this initial work, we focus on the general properties of the ISM with a particular focus on the cold star-forming gas. We discuss the role of the interaction with the companion galaxy in generating cold molecular gas and controlling stellar birth. We find that while the interaction drives large-scale gas flows and induces spiral arms in the galaxy, it is of secondary importance in determining gas fractions in the different ISM phases and the overall star formation rate. The behaviour ofmore »the gas on small GMC scales instead is mostly controlled by the self-regulating property of the ISM driven by coupled feedback.

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