Study of galactic clumps with millimeter / submillimeter continuum and molecular emission : early stages of massive star formation



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Massive stars play a key role in the evolution of the Galaxy; hence they are important objects of study in astrophysics. Although they are rare compared to low mass stars, they are the principal source of heavy elements and UV radiation, affecting the process of formation of stars and planets, and the physical, chemical, and morphological structure of galaxies. Star clusters form in dense "clumps" (~few parsecs in size) within giant molecular clouds, while individual stars form in cores (subparsec scale). An important step in the observational study of massive star formation is the identification and characterization of clumps. More detailed studies can then show how these clumps fragment into cores. Studies of clumps in our Galaxy will provide fundamental guidelines for the analysis of other galaxies, where individual clumps and cores cannot be resolved, and provide a catalog of interesting sources for observations of the Milky Way with a new generation of instruments, such as the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array. Large-scale blind surveys of the Galactic plane at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths have recently been completed, allowing us to identify star forming clumps and improve our understanding of the early stages of massive stars. One of these studies, the Bolocam Galactic Plane Survey (BGPS), mapped the continuum emission at 1.1 mm over a large region of the northern Galactic plane at a resolution of 33'', identifying 8559 compact sources throughout the Galaxy. In this dissertation, I present observations of a sample of sources from the BGPS catalog, obtained with the Submillimeter High Angular Resolution Camera II (SHARC-II). I present in this work 107 continuum emission maps at 350 microns at high angular resolution (8.5'') toward clump-like sources and construct a catalog of BGPS substructures. I estimate clump properties such as temperatures and multiplicity of substructures, and compare my results with 350 microns continuum maps from the Hi-GAL survey. I also present a detailed analysis, using molecular line and dust continuum observations, of the region G331.5-0.1, one of the most luminous regions of massive star formation in the Milky Way, located at the tangent region of the Norma spiral arm. Molecular line and millimeter continuum emission maps reveal the presence of six compact and luminous molecular clumps, with physical properties consistent with values found toward other massive star forming sources. This work includes the discovery of one of the most energetic and luminous molecular outflows known in the Galaxy, G331.512-0.103. For this high-speed outflow, I present ALMA observations that reveal a very compact, extremely young bipolar outflow and a more symmetric outflowing shocked shell surrounding a very small region of ionized gas. The source is one of the youngest examples of massive molecular outflows associated with the formation of a high-mass star.