The mid-infrared environments of 6.7 GHz methanol masers from the methanol multi-beam survey
Gallaway, M and Thompson, MA and Lucas, PW and Fuller, GA and Caswell, JL and Green, JA and Voronkov, MA and Breen, SL and Quinn, L and Ellingsen, SP and Avison, A and Ward-thompson, D and Cox, J, The mid-infrared environments of 6.7 GHz methanol masers from the methanol multi-beam survey, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 430, (2) pp. 808-821. ISSN 0035-8711 (2013) [Refereed Article]
We present a study of the mid-infrared environments and association with star formation tracers of 6.7 GHz methanol masers taken from the Methanol Multi-Beam (MMB) survey. Our ultimate goal is to establish the mass of the host star and its evolutionary stage for each maser site. As a first step, the GLIMPSE survey of the Galactic plane is utilized to investigate the environment of 776 methanol masers and we find that while the majority of the masers are associated with mid-infrared counterparts, a significant fraction (17 per cent) are not associated with any detectable mid-infrared emission. A number of the maser counterparts are clearly extended with respect to the GLIMPSE point spread function and we implement an adaptive non-circular aperture photometry (ANCAP) technique to determine the fluxes of the maser counterparts. The ANCAP technique doubles the number of masers with flux information at all four wavelengths compared to the number of the corresponding counterparts obtained from the GLIMPSE Point Source Catalog. The colours of the maser counterparts are found to be very similar to the smaller study carried out by Ellingsen. The MMB masers are weakly associated with extended green objects and Red MSX Survey embedded sources (YSO and H ii region classifications) with 18 and 12 per cent of masers associated with these objects, respectively. The majority of MMB masers (60 per cent) have detectable GLIMPSE infrared counterparts but have not been identified with previously recognized tracers of massive star formation; this confirms that the MMB survey has the potential to identify massive star-forming regions independent of infrared selection.