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Wang, Ke; Testi, Leonardo; Burkert, Andreas; Walmsley, C. Malcolm; Beuther, Henrik and Henning, Thomas (2016): A census of large-scale (>= 10 PC), velocity-coherent, dense filaments in the northern galactic plane: automated identification using minimum spanning tree. In: Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, Vol. 226, No. 1, 9

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Large-scale gaseous filaments with lengths up to the order of 100 pc are on the upper end of the filamentary hierarchy of the Galactic interstellar medium (ISM). Their association with respect to the Galactic structure and their role in Galactic star formation are of great interest from both an observational and theoretical point of view. Previous "by-eye" searches, combined together, have started to uncover the Galactic distribution of large filaments, yet inherent bias and small sample size limit conclusive statistical results from being drawn. Here, we present (1) a new, automated method for identifying large-scale velocity-coherent dense filaments, and (2) the first statistics and the Galactic distribution of these filaments. We use a customized minimum spanning tree algorithm to identify filaments by connecting voxels in the position-position-velocity space, using the Bolocam Galactic Plane Survey spectroscopic catalog. In the range of 7 degrees.5 <= l <= 194 degrees, we have identified 54 large-scale filaments and derived mass (similar to 10(3)-10(5) M-circle dot), length (10-276 pc), linear mass density (54-8625 M-circle dot pc(-1)), aspect ratio, linearity, velocity gradient, temperature, fragmentation, Galactic location, and orientation angle. The filaments concentrate along major spiral arms. They are widely distributed across the Galactic disk, with 50% located within. +/- 20 pc from the Galactic mid-plane and 27% run in the center of spiral arms. An order of 1% of the molecular ISM is confined in large filaments. Massive star formation is more favorable in large filaments compared to elsewhere. This is the first comprehensive catalog of large filaments that can be useful for a quantitative comparison with spiral structures and numerical simulations.

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