'The Brick' is not a brick: A comprehensive study of the structure and dynamics of the Central Molecular Zone cloud G0.253+0.016

J. D. Henshaw, A. Ginsburg, T. J. Haworth, S. N. Longmore, J. M. D. Kruijssen, E. A. C. Mills, V. Sokolov, D. L. Walker, A. T. Barnes, Y. Contreras, J. Bally, C. Battersby, H. Beuther, N. Butterfield, James Dale, T. Henning, J. M. Jackson, J. Kauffmann, T. Pillai, S. RaganM. Riener, Q. Zhang

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In this paper we provide a comprehensive description of the internal dynamics of G0.253+0.016 (a.k.a. 'the Brick'); one of the most massive and dense molecular clouds in the Galaxy to lack signatures of widespread star formation. As a potential host to a future generation of high-mass stars, understanding largely quiescent molecular clouds like G0.253+0.016 is of critical importance. In this paper, we reanalyse Atacama Large Millimeter Array cycle 0 HNCO $J=4(0,4)-3(0,3)$ data at 3 mm, using two new pieces of software which we make available to the community. First, scousepy, a Python implementation of the spectral line fitting algorithm scouse. Secondly, acorns (Agglomerative Clustering for ORganising Nested Structures), a hierarchical n-dimensional clustering algorithm designed for use with discrete spectroscopic data. Together, these tools provide an unbiased measurement of the line of sight velocity dispersion in this cloud, $\sigma_{v_{los}, {\rm 1D}}=4.4\pm2.1$ kms$^{-1}$, which is somewhat larger than predicted by velocity dispersion-size relations for the Central Molecular Zone (CMZ). The dispersion of centroid velocities in the plane of the sky are comparable, yielding $\sigma_{v_{los}, {\rm 1D}}/\sigma_{v_{pos}, {\rm 1D}}\sim1.2\pm0.3$. This isotropy may indicate that the line-of-sight extent of the cloud is approximately equivalent to that in the plane of the sky. Combining our kinematic decomposition with radiative transfer modelling we conclude that G0.253+0.016 is not a single, coherent, and centrally-condensed molecular cloud; 'the Brick' is not a \emph{brick}. Instead, G0.253+0.016 is a dynamically complex and hierarchically-structured molecular cloud whose morphology is consistent with the influence of the orbital dynamics and shear in the CMZ.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2457–2485
Number of pages29
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Early online date17 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • Galaxy: centre
  • ISM: clouds
  • ISM: kinematics and dynamics
  • ISM: structure
  • Stars: formation
  • Turbulence


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