Hybrid -- To Join via Zoom
The Galactic Center provides a unique opportunity to study star formation in an extreme environment, perhaps more representative of conditions in high-redshift galaxies.The innermost few hundred parsecs of the Galaxy contain an enormous reservoir of dense molecular gas known as the Central Molecular Zone (CMZ), but despite having copious fuel to form stars, the star formation rate is at least an order of magnitude lower than expected. The complexity and variety of CMZ clouds presents a challenge in pinning down the relationship between environment and cloud evolution, a challenge that must be answered by highly complete surveys as well as simulations covering a wide range of physical scales. I will present results from recent observational surveys, as well as recent hydrodynamic simulations in order to explore the cloud-to-cloud variation of gas properties and star formation throughout the CMZ. I will present our dynamically-motivated simulations of the CMZ, using which we constrain the mass inflow rate towards the Galactic Center and study the impact of the Galactic Bar on the properties and evolution of clouds in the CMZ. My results highlight the importance of the galactic-scale dynamical environment on the evolution of molecular clouds and the formation of stars, and I will discuss plans to expand our understanding of the Galactic Center with a combination of upcoming multi-wavelength observational efforts and high-resolution zoom simulations.