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High-resolution APEX/LAsMA 12CO and 13CO (3-2) observation of the G333 giant molecular cloud complex : I. Evidence for gravitational acceleration in hub-filament systems

Zhou, J. W., Wyrowski, F., Neupane, S., Urquhart, J.S., Evans II, N.J., Vasquez-Semadeni, E., Menten, K.M., Gong, Y., Liu, T. (2023) High-resolution APEX/LAsMA 12CO and 13CO (3-2) observation of the G333 giant molecular cloud complex : I. Evidence for gravitational acceleration in hub-filament systems. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 676 . Article Number A69. ISSN 0004-6361. E-ISSN 1432-0746. (doi:10.1051/0004-6361/202346500) (KAR id:101411)


Context. Hub-filament systems are suggested to be the birth cradles of high-mass stars and clusters.

Aims. We investigate the gas kinematics of hub-filament structures in the G333 giant molecular cloud complex using 13CO (3−2) observed with the APEX/LAsMA heterodyne camera.

Methods. We apply the FILFINDER algorithm to the integrated intensity maps of the 13CO J=3−2 line to identify filaments in the G333 complex, and we extract the velocity and intensity along the filament skeleton from moment maps. Clear velocity and density fluctuations are seen along the filaments, allowing us to fit velocity gradients around the intensity peaks.

Results. The velocity gradients fitted to the LAsMA data and ALMA data agree with each other over the scales covered by ALMA observations in the ATOMS survey (< 5 pc). Changes of velocity gradient with scale indicate a “funnel” structure of the velocity field in position-position-velocity (PPV) space, indicative of a smooth, continuously increasing velocity gradient from large to small scales, and thus consistent with gravitational acceleration. The typical velocity gradient corresponding to a 1 pc scale is ∼ 1.6 km s−1 pc−1. Assuming free-fall, we estimate a kinematic mass within 1 pc of ∼ 1190 M⊙, which is consistent with typical masses of clumps in the ATLASGAL survey of massive clumps in the inner Galaxy. We find direct evidence for gravitational acceleration from comparison of the observed accelerations to those predicted by free-fall onto dense hubs with masses from millimeter continuum observations. On large scales, we find that the inflow may be driven by the larger scale structure, consistent with hierarchical structure in the molecular cloud and gas inflow from large to small scales. The hub-filament structures at different scales may be organized into a hierarchical system extending up to the largest scales probed, through the coupling of gravitational centers at different scales.

Conclusions. We argue that the “funnel” structure in PPV space can be an effective probe for the gravitational collapse motions in molecular clouds. The large scale gas inflow is driven by gravity, implying that the molecular clouds in G333 complex may be in the state of global gravitational collapse.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1051/0004-6361/202346500
Uncontrolled keywords: Submillimeter: ISM; ISM:structure; ISM: evolution; Stars: formation; methods: analytical; techniques: image processing
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Physics and Astronomy
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: James Urquhart
Date Deposited: 25 May 2023 14:04 UTC
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2023 15:37 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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