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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 atmore »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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  2. Abstract CMZoom survey observations with the Submillimeter Array are analyzed to describe the virial equilibrium (VE) and star-forming potential of 755 clumps in 22 clouds in the Central Molecular Zone (CMZ) of the Milky Way. In each cloud, nearly all clumps follow the column density–mass trend N ∝ M s , where s = 0.38 ± 0.03 is near the pressure-bounded limit s p = 1/3. This trend is expected when gravitationally unbound clumps in VE have similar velocity dispersion and external pressure. Nine of these clouds also harbor one or two distinctly more massive clumps. These properties allow a VE model of bound and unbound clumps in each cloud, where the most massive clump has the VE critical mass. These models indicate that 213 clumps have velocity dispersion 1–2 km s −1 , mean external pressure (0.5–4) × 10 8 cm −3 K, bound clump fraction 0.06, and typical virial parameter α = 4–15. These mostly unbound clumps may be in VE with their turbulent cloud pressure, possibly driven by inflow from the Galactic bar. In contrast, most Sgr B2 clumps are bound according to their associated sources and N – M trends. When the CMZ clumps are combinedmore »into mass distributions, their typical power-law slope is analyzed with a model of stopped accretion. It also indicates that most clumps are unbound and cannot grow significantly, due to their similar timescales of accretion and dispersal, ∼0.2 Myr. Thus, virial and dynamical analyses of the most extensive clump census available indicate that star formation in the CMZ may be suppressed by a significant deficit of gravitationally bound clumps.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  3. Abstract Star formation primarily occurs in filaments where magnetic fields are expected to be dynamically important. The largest and densest filaments trace the spiral structure within galaxies. Over a dozen of these dense (∼10 4 cm −3 ) and long (>10 pc) filaments have been found within the Milky Way, and they are often referred to as “bones.” Until now, none of these bones has had its magnetic field resolved and mapped in its entirety. We introduce the SOFIA legacy project FIELDMAPS which has begun mapping ∼10 of these Milky Way bones using the HAWC+ instrument at 214 μ m and 18.″2 resolution. Here we present a first result from this survey on the ∼60 pc long bone G47. Contrary to some studies of dense filaments in the Galactic plane, we find that the magnetic field is often not perpendicular to the spine (i.e., the center line of the bone). Fields tend to be perpendicular in the densest areas of active star formation and more parallel or random in other areas. The average field is neither parallel nor perpendicular to the Galactic plane or the bone. The magnetic field strengths along the spine typically vary from ∼20 to ∼100 μmore »G. Magnetic fields tend to be strong enough to suppress collapse along much of the bone, but for areas that are most active in star formation, the fields are notably less able to resist gravitational collapse.« less