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ATLASGAL - Kinematic distances and the dense gas mass distribution of the inner Galaxy

Wienen, M., Wyrowski, F., Menten, K.M., Urquhart, J.S., Csengeri, T., Walmsley, C.M., Bontemps, S., Russeil, D., Bronfman, L., Koribalski, B.S., and others. (2015) ATLASGAL - Kinematic distances and the dense gas mass distribution of the inner Galaxy. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 579 (A91). ISSN 0004-6361. E-ISSN 1432-0746. (doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201424802) (KAR id:52179)


The formation of high mass stars and clusters occurs in giant molecular clouds. Objects in evolved stages of massive star formation such as protostars, hot molecular cores, and ultracompact HII regions have been studied in more detail than earlier, colder objects. Further progress thus requires the analysis of the time before massive protostellar objects can be probed by their infrared emission. With this in mind, the APEX Telescope Large Area Survey of the whole inner Galactic plane at 870 \(\mu\)m (ATLASGAL) has been carried out to provide a global view of cold dust and star formation at submillimetre wavelengths.

Aims. We derive kinematic distances to a large sample of massive cold dust clumps from their measured line velocities. We estimate masses and sizes of ATLASGAL sources, for which the kinematic distance ambiguity is resolved.

Methods. The ATLASGAL sample is divided into groups of sources, which are located close together, mostly within a radius of 2 pc, and have velocities in a similar range with a median velocity dispersion of ~1 km s-\(^1\). We use NH\(_3\), N\(_2\)H\(_+\), and CS velocities to calculate near and far kinematic distances to those groups.

Results. We obtain 296 groups of ATLASGAL sources in the first quadrant and 393 groups in the fourth quadrant, which are coherent in space and velocity. We analyse HI self-absorption and HI absorption to resolve the kinematic distance ambiguity to 689 complexes of submm clumps. They are associated with \(^{12}\)CO emission probing large-scale structure and \(^{13}\)CO (1–0) line as well as the 870 \(\mu\)m dust continuum on a smaller scale. We obtain a scale height of ~28 ± 2 pc and displacement below the Galactic midplane of ~-7 ± 1 pc. Within distances from 2 to 18 kpc ATLASGAL clumps have a broad range of gas masses with a median of 1050 \(M\)\(\bigodot\) as well as a wide distribution of radii with a median of 0.4 pc. Their distribution in galactocentric radii is correlated with spiral arms.

Conclusions. Using a statistically significant ATLASGAL sample we derive a power-law exponent of -2.2 ± 0.1 of the clump mass function. This is consistent with the slope derived for clusters and with that of the stellar initial mass function. Examining the power-law index for different galactocentric distances and various source samples shows that it is independent of environment and evolutionary phase. Fitting the mass-size relationship by a power law gives a slope of 1.76 ± 0.01 for cold sources such as IRDCs and warm clumps associated with HII regions.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1051/0004-6361/201424802
Uncontrolled keywords: surveys / submillimeter: general / radio lines: ISM / ISM: molecules / ISM: kinematics and dynamics / stars: formation
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy > QB460 Astrophysics
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Physics and Astronomy
Depositing User: James Urquhart
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2015 17:05 UTC
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 14:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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