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Dense gas in a giant molecular filament

Wang, Y., Beuther, H., Schneider, N., Meidt, S. E., Linz, H., Ragan, S. ORCID:, Zucker, C., Battersby, C., Soler, J. D., Schinnerer, E., Bigiel, F., Colombo, D. and Henning, Th. 2020. Dense gas in a giant molecular filament. Astronomy and Astrophysics 641 , A53. 10.1051/0004-6361/202037928

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Context. Recent surveys of the Galactic plane in the dust continuum and CO emission lines reveal that large (& 50 pc) and massive (& 105 M) filaments, know as giant molecular filaments (GMFs), may be linked to galactic dynamics and trace the mid-plane of the gravitational potential in the Milky Way. Yet our physical understanding of GMFs is still poor. Aims. We investigate the dense gas properties of one GMF, with the ultimate goal of connecting these dense gas tracers with star formation processes in the GMF. Methods. We have imaged one entire GMF located at l∼52–54◦ longitude, GMF54 (∼68 pc long), in the empirical dense gas tracers using the HCN(1–0), HNC(1–0), HCO+(1–0) lines, and their 13C isotopologue transitions, as well as the N2H+(1–0) line. We study the dense gas distribution, the column density probability density functions (N-PDFs) and the line ratios within the GMF. Results. The dense gas molecular transitions follow the extended structure of the filament with area filling factors between 0.06 and 0.28 with respect to 13CO(1–0). We constructed the N-PDFs of H2 for each of the dense gas tracers based on their column densities and assumed uniform abundance. The N-PDFs of the dense gas tracers appear curved in log-log representation, and the HCO+ NPDF has the largest log-normal width and flattest power-law slope index. Studying the N-PDFs for sub-regions of GMF54, we found an evolutionary trend in the N-PDFs that high-mass star forming and Photon Dominated Regions (PDRs) have flatter power-law indices. The integrated intensity ratios of the molecular lines in GMF54 are comparable to those in nearby galaxies. In particular, the N2H+/13CO ratio, which traces the dense gas fraction, has similar values in GMF54 and all nearby galaxies except ULIRGs. Conclusions. The largest coherent cold gaseous structure in our Milky Way, GMFs, are outstanding candidates for connecting studies of star formationon Galactic and extra galactic scales. By analyzing a complete map of the dense gas in a GMF we have found that:1) the dense gas N-PDFs appear flatter in more evolved regions and steeper in younger regions, and 2) its integrated dense gas intensity ratios are similar to those of nearby galaxies.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Additional Information: Under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (
Publisher: EDP Sciences
ISSN: 0004-6361
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 June 2020
Date of Acceptance: 22 June 2020
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 07:59

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