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Star formation towards the Scutum tangent region and the effects of Galactic environment




By positional matching to the catalogue of Galactic Ring Survey molecular clouds, we have derived distances to 793 Bolocam Galactic Plane Survey (BGPS) sources out of a possible 806 located within the region defined by Galactic longitudes l= 28°.5–31°.5 and latitudes |b|≤ 1°. This section of the Galactic plane contains several major features of Galactic structure at different distances, mainly mid-arm sections of the Perseus and Sagittarius spiral arms and the tangent of the Scutum–Centaurus arm, which is coincident with the end of the Galactic long bar. By utilizing the catalogued cloud distances plus new kinematic distance determinations, we are able to separate the dense BGPS clumps into these three main line-of-sight components to look for variations in star formation properties that might be related to the different Galactic environments. We find no evidence of any difference in either the clump mass function or the average clump formation efficiency (CFE) between these components that might be attributed to environmental effects on scales comparable to Galactic structure features.

Despite having a very high star formation rate, and containing at least one cloud with a very high CFE, the star formation associated with the Scutum–Centaurus tangent does not appear to be in any way abnormal or different to that in the other two spiral arm sections. Large variations in the CFE are found on the scale of individual clouds, however, which may be due to local triggering agents as opposed to the large-scale Galactic structure.