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  1. ABSTRACT

    The Central Molecular Zone (CMZ; the central ∼500 pc of the Galaxy) is a kinematically unusual environment relative to the Galactic disc, with high-velocity dispersions and a steep size–linewidth relation of the molecular clouds. In addition, the CMZ region has a significantly lower star formation rate (SFR) than expected by its large amount of dense gas. An important factor in explaining the low SFR is the turbulent state of the star-forming gas, which seems to be dominated by rotational modes. However, the turbulence driving mechanism remains unclear. In this work, we investigate how the Galactic gravitational potential affects the turbulence in CMZ clouds. We focus on the CMZ cloud G0.253+0.016 (‘the Brick’), which is very quiescent and unlikely to be kinematically dominated by stellar feedback. We demonstrate that several kinematic properties of the Brick arise naturally in a cloud-scale hydrodynamics simulation, that takes into account the Galactic gravitational potential. These properties include the line-of-sight velocity distribution, the steepened size–linewidth relation, and the predominantly solenoidal nature of the turbulence. Within the simulation, these properties result from the Galactic shear in combination with the cloud’s gravitational collapse. This is a strong indication that the Galactic gravitational potential plays a crucial role in shaping the CMZ gas kinematics, and is a major contributor to suppressing the SFR, by inducing predominantly solenoidal turbulent modes.

     
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  2. ABSTRACT

    Filamentary structures have been found nearly ubiquitously in molecular clouds and yet their formation and evolution is still poorly understood. We examine a segment of Taurus Molecular Cloud 1 (TMC-1) that appears as a single, narrow filament in continuum emission from dust. We use the Regularized Optimization for Hyper-Spectral Analysis (ROHSA), a Gaussian decomposition algorithm that enforces spatial coherence when fitting multiple velocity components simultaneously over a data cube. We analyse HC5N (9–8) line emission as part of the Green Bank Ammonia Survey and identify three velocity-coherent components with ROHSA. The two brightest components extend the length of the filament, while the third component is fainter and clumpier. The brightest component has a prominent transverse velocity gradient of 2.7 ± 0.1 km s−1 pc−1 that we show to be indicative of gravitationally induced inflow. In the second component, we identify regularly spaced emission peaks along its length. We show that the local minima between pairs of adjacent HC5N peaks line up closely with submillimetre continuum emission peaks, which we argue is evidence for fragmentation along the spine of TMC-1. While coherent velocity components have been described as separate physical structures in other star-forming filaments, we argue that the two bright components identified in HC5N emission in TMC-1 are tracing two layers in one filament: a lower density outer layer whose material is flowing under gravity towards the higher density inner layer of the filament.

     
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  3. Abstract

    pyspeckitis a toolkit and library for spectroscopic analysis in Python. We describe thepyspeckitpackage and highlight some of its capabilities, such as interactively fitting a model to data, akin to the historically widely-usedsplotfunction inIRAF.pyspeckitemploys the Levenberg–Marquardt optimization method via thempfitandlmfitimplementations, and important assumptions regarding error estimation are described here. Wrappers to usepymcandemceeas optimizers are provided. A parallelized wrapper to fit lines in spectral cubes is included. As part of theastropyaffiliated package ecosystem,pyspeckitis open source and open development, and welcomes input and collaboration from the community.

     
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  4. ABSTRACT

    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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  5. Context. The origin of the stellar initial mass function (IMF) and its relation with the core mass function (CMF) are actively debated issues with important implications in astrophysics. Recent observations in the W43 molecular complex of top-heavy CMFs, with an excess of high-mass cores compared to the canonical mass distribution, raise questions about our understanding of the star formation processes and their evolution in space and time. Aims. We aim to compare populations of protostellar and prestellar cores in three regions imaged in the ALMA-IMF Large Program. Methods. We created an homogeneous core catalogue in W43, combining a new core extraction in W43-MM1 with the catalogue of W43-MM2&MM3 presented in a previous work. Our detailed search for protostellar outflows enabled us to identify between 23 and 30 protostellar cores out of 127 cores in W43-MM1 and between 42 and 51 protostellar cores out of 205 cores in W43-MM2&MM3. Cores with neither outflows nor hot core emission are classified as prestellar candidates. Results. We found a similar fraction of cores which are protostellar in the two regions, about 35%. This fraction strongly varies in mass, from f pro ≃ 15–20% at low mass, between 0.8 and 3 M ⊙ up to f pro ≃ 80% above 16 M ⊙ . Protostellar cores are found to be, on average, more massive and smaller in size than prestellar cores. Our analysis also revealed that the high-mass slope of the prestellar CMF in W43, α = -1.46 -0.19 +0.12 , is consistent with the Salpeter slope, and thus the top-heavy form measured for the global CMF, α = −0.96 ± 0.09, is due to the protostellar core population. Conclusions. Our results could be explained by ‘clump-fed’ models in which cores grow in mass, especially during the protostellar phase, through inflow from their environment. The difference between the slopes of the prestellar and protostellar CMFs moreover implies that high-mass cores grow more in mass than low-mass cores. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  6. Context. Among the most central open questions regarding the initial mass function (IMF) of stars is the impact of environment on the shape of the core mass function (CMF) and thus potentially on the IMF. Aims. The ALMA-IMF Large Program aims to investigate the variations in the core distributions (CMF and mass segregation) with cloud characteristics, such as the density and kinematic of the gas, as diagnostic observables of the formation process and evolution of clouds. The present study focuses on the W43-MM2&MM3 mini-starburst, whose CMF has recently been found to be top-heavy with respect to the Salpeter slope of the canonical IMF. Methods. W43-MM2&MM3 is a useful test case for environmental studies because it harbors a rich cluster that contains a statistically significant number of cores (specifically, 205 cores), which was previously characterized in Paper III. We applied a multi-scale decomposition technique to the ALMA 1.3 mm and 3 mm continuum images of W43-MM2&MM3 to define six subregions, each 0.5–1 pc in size. For each subregion we characterized the probability distribution function of the high column density gas, η -PDF, using the 1.3 mm images. Using the core catalog, we investigate correlations between the CMF and cloud and core properties, such as the η -PDF and the core mass segregation. Results. We classify the W43-MM2&MM3 subregions into different stages of evolution, from quiescent to burst to post-burst, based on the surface number density of cores, number of outflows, and ultra-compact HII presence. The high-mass end (>1 M ⊙ ) of the subregion CMFs varies from close to the Salpeter slope (quiescent) to top-heavy (burst and post-burst). Moreover, the second tail of the η -PDF varies from steep (quiescent) to flat (burst and post-burst), as observed for high-mass star-forming clouds. We find that subregions with flat second η -PDF tails display top-heavy CMFs. Conclusions. In dynamical environments such as W43-MM2&MM3, the high-mass end of the CMF appears to be rooted in the cloud structure, which is at high column density and surrounds cores. This connection stems from the fact that cores and their immediate surroundings are both determined and shaped by the cloud formation process, the current evolutionary state of the cloud, and, more broadly, the star formation history. The CMF may evolve from Salpeter to top-heavy throughout the star formation process from the quiescent to the burst phase. This scenario raises the question of if the CMF might revert again to Salpeter as the cloud approaches the end of its star formation stage, a hypothesis that remains to be tested. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  7. ABSTRACT We study the formation, evolution, and collapse of dense cores by tracking structures in a magnetohydrodynamic simulation of a star-forming cloud. We identify cores using the dendrogram algorithm and utilize machine learning techniques, including Neural Gas prototype learning and Fuzzy c-means clustering to analyse the density and velocity dispersion profiles of cores together with six bulk properties. We produce a 2-d visualization using a Uniform Manifold Approximation and Projection (UMAP), which facilitates the connection between physical properties and three partially-overlapping phases: i) unbound turbulent structures (Phase I), ii) coherent cores that have low turbulence (Phase II), and iii) bound cores, many of which become protostellar (Phase III). Within Phase II, we identify a population of long-lived coherent cores that reach a quasi-equilibrium state. Most prestellar cores form in Phase II and become protostellar after evolving into Phase III. Due to the turbulent cloud environment, the initial core properties do not uniquely predict the eventual evolution, i.e. core evolution is stochastic, and cores follow no one evolutionary path. The phase lifetimes are 1.0 ± 0.1 × 105 yr, 1.3 ± 0.2 × 105 yr, and 1.8 ± 0.3 × 105 yr for Phase I, II, and III, respectively. We compare our results to NH3 observations of dense cores. Known coherent cores predominantly map into Phase II, while most turbulent pressure-confined cores map to Phase I or III. We predict that a significant fraction of observed starless cores have unresolved coherent regions and that ≳20 per cent of observed starless cores will not form stars. Measurements of core radial profiles in addition to the usual bulk properties will enable more accurate predictions of core evolution. 
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  8. Aims. Thanks to the high angular resolution, sensitivity, image fidelity, and frequency coverage of ALMA, we aim to improve our understanding of star formation. One of the breakthroughs expected from ALMA, which is the basis of our Cycle 5 ALMA-IMF Large Program, is the question of the origin of the initial mass function (IMF) of stars. Here we present the ALMA-IMF protocluster selection, first results, and scientific prospects. Methods. ALMA-IMF imaged a total noncontiguous area of ~53 pc 2 , covering extreme, nearby protoclusters of the Milky Way. We observed 15 massive (2.5 −33 × 10 3 M ⊙ ), nearby (2−5.5 kpc) protoclusters that were selected to span relevant early protocluster evolutionary stages. Our 1.3 and 3 mm observations provide continuum images that are homogeneously sensitive to point-like cores with masses of ~0.2 M ⊙ and ~0.6 M ⊙ , respectively, with a matched spatial resolution of ~2000 au across the sample at both wavelengths. Moreover, with the broad spectral coverage provided by ALMA, we detect lines that probe the ionized and molecular gas, as well as complex molecules. Taken together, these data probe the protocluster structure, kinematics, chemistry, and feedback over scales from clouds to filaments to cores. Results. We classify ALMA-IMF protoclusters as Young (six protoclusters), Intermediate (five protoclusters), or Evolved (four proto-clusters) based on the amount of dense gas in the cloud that has potentially been impacted by H  II region(s). The ALMA-IMF catalog contains ~700 cores that span a mass range of ~0.15 M ⊙ to ~250 M ⊙ at a typical size of ~2100 au. We show that this core sample has no significant distance bias and can be used to build core mass functions (CMFs) at similar physical scales. Significant gas motions, which we highlight here in the G353.41 region, are traced down to core scales and can be used to look for inflowing gas streamers and to quantify the impact of the possible associated core mass growth on the shape of the CMF with time. Our first analysis does not reveal any significant evolution of the matter concentration from clouds to cores (i.e., from 1 pc to 0.01 pc scales) or from the youngest to more evolved protoclusters, indicating that cloud dynamical evolution and stellar feedback have for the moment only had a slight effect on the structure of high-density gas in our sample. Furthermore, the first-look analysis of the line richness toward bright cores indicates that the survey encompasses several tens of hot cores, of which we highlight the most massive in the G351.77 cloud. Their homogeneous characterization can be used to constrain the emerging molecular complexity in protostars of high to intermediate masses. Conclusions. The ALMA-IMF Large Program is uniquely designed to transform our understanding of the IMF origin, taking the effects of cloud characteristics and evolution into account. It will provide the community with an unprecedented database with a high legacy value for protocluster clouds, filaments, cores, hot cores, outflows, inflows, and stellar clusters studies. 
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  9. We present the first data release of the ALMA-IMF Large Program, which covers the 12m-array continuum calibration and imaging. The ALMA-IMF Large Program is a survey of fifteen dense molecular cloud regions spanning a range of evolutionary stages that aims to measure the core mass function. We describe the data acquisition and calibration done by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) observatory and the subsequent calibration and imaging we performed. The image products are combinations of multiple 12 m array configurations created from a selection of the observed bandwidth using multi-term, multi-frequency synthesis imaging and deconvolution. The data products are self-calibrated and exhibit substantial noise improvements over the images produced from the delivered data. We compare different choices of continuum selection, calibration parameters, and image weighting parameters, demonstrating the utility and necessity of our additional processing work. Two variants of continuum selection are used and will be distributed: the “best-sensitivity” ( bsens ) data, which include the full bandwidth, including bright emission lines that contaminate the continuum, and “cleanest” ( cleanest ), which select portions of the spectrum that are unaffected by line emission. We present a preliminary analysis of the spectral indices of the continuum data, showing that the ALMA products are able to clearly distinguish free-free emission from dust emission, and that in some cases we are able to identify optically thick emission sources. The data products are made public with this release. 
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  10. Abstract We observed the high-mass protostellar core G335.579–0.272 ALMA1 at ∼200 au (0.″05) resolution with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) at 226 GHz (with a mass sensitivity of 5 σ = 0.2 M ⊙ at 10 K). We discovered that at least a binary system is forming inside this region, with an additional nearby bow-like structure (≲1000 au) that could add an additional member to the stellar system. These three sources are located at the center of the gravitational potential well of the ALMA1 region and the larger MM1 cluster. The emission from CH 3 OH (and many other tracers) is extended (>1000 au), revealing a common envelope toward the binary system. We use CH 2 CHCN line emission to estimate an inclination angle of the rotation axis of 26° with respect to the line of sight based on geometric assumptions and derive a kinematic mass of the primary source (protostar+disk) of 3.0 M ⊙ within a radius of 230 au. Using SiO emission, we find that the primary source drives the large-scale outflow revealed by previous observations. Precession of the binary system likely produces a change in orientation between the outflow at small scales observed here and large scales observed in previous works. The bow structure may have originated from the entrainment of matter into the envelope due to the widening or precession of the outflow, or, alternatively, an accretion streamer dominated by the gravity of the central sources. An additional third source, forming due to instabilities in the streamer, cannot be ruled out as a temperature gradient is needed to produce the observed absorption spectra. 
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