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Seeding the Galactic Centre gas stream: gravitational instabilities set the initial conditions for the formation of protocluster clouds

Henshaw, JD and Longmore, SN and Kruijssen, JMD (2016) Seeding the Galactic Centre gas stream: gravitational instabilities set the initial conditions for the formation of protocluster clouds. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters, 463 (1). L122-L126. ISSN 0035-8711

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Abstract

Star formation within the Central Molecular Zone (CMZ) may be intimately linked to the orbital dynamics of the gas. Recent models suggest that star formation within the dust ridge molecular clouds (from G0.253+0.016 to Sgr B2) follows an evolutionary time sequence, triggered by tidal compression during their preceding pericentre passage. Given that these clouds are the most likely precursors to a generation of massive stars and extreme star clusters, this scenario would have profound implications for constraining the time-evolution of star formation. In this Letter, we search for the initial conditions of the protocluster clouds, focusing on the kinematics of gas situated upstream from pericentre. We observe a highly-regular corrugated velocity field in $\{l,\,v_{\rm LSR}\}$ space, with amplitude and wavelength $A=3.7\,\pm\,0.1$ kms$^{-1}$ and $\lambda_{\rm vel, i}=22.5\,\pm\,0.1$ pc, respectively. The extremes in velocity correlate with a series of massive ($\sim10^{4}$M$_{\odot}$) and compact ($R_{\rm eq}\sim2$ pc), quasi-regularly spaced ($\sim8$ pc), molecular clouds. The corrugation wavelength and cloud separation closely agree with the predicted Toomre ($\sim17$ pc) and Jeans ($\sim6$ pc) lengths, respectively. We conclude that gravitational instabilities are driving the condensation of molecular clouds within the Galactic Centre gas stream. Furthermore, we speculate these seeds are the historical analogue of the dust-ridge molecular clouds, representing the initial conditions of star and cluster formation in the CMZ.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Uncontrolled Keywords: astro-ph.GA; astro-ph.GA
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2016 11:30
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2017 18:30
DOI or Identification number: 10.1093/mnrasl/slw168
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/4159

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