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New Class II Methanol Masers in W3(OH)


Sutton, EC and Sobolev, AM and Ellingsen, SP and Cragg, DM and Mehringer, DM and Ostrovskii, AB and Godfrey, PD, New Class II Methanol Masers in W3(OH), The Astrophysical Journal, 554, (1) pp. 173-189. ISSN 0004-637X (2001) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1086/321349


We report interferometric observations of nine class II methanol maser candidate lines toward W3(OH). Narrow maser emission spikes at ν LSR = -43.1 km s -1 are present in three of the lines: 3 1-4 0 A +, 7 2-6 3 A +, and 7 2-6 3 A -. For all three lines the maser position is near the northern edge of the W3(OH) ultracompact H II region (maser emission is also seen near the southern edge in the 3 1-4 0 A + line). For the remaining six lines there is no obvious counterpart to the narrow maser spike at -43.1 km s -1. Additional spatially extended emission is present in all nine lines over the range from -41 to -48 km s -1. By comparing our observed flux densities with an extensive set of model calculations, we infer physical characteristics of the maser region. In these calculations the methanol is excited by infrared radiation from warm dust, and this excited gas amplifies the free-free background emission from the ultracompact H II region. The gas forming the narrow maser spikes appears to have both high kinetic temperature, T kin ≥ 110 K, and high density, n H2 ≈ 10 7 cm -3. Low-temperature solutions are ruled out by the observed line ratios and low-density solutions by the unphysically large path length that would be required. The gas is rich in methanol (2N M = N A + N E ≥ 10 -6N H2), and the methanol column density in the tangential direction for each symmetry species (divided by line width) is N M/"V ≈ 10 12 cm -3 s. Somewhat lower values of n H2 and N M/"V are also acceptable. The size of the region emitting the maser spike is of order 100 × 1000 AU. In most of the lines the broad emission from -41 to -48 km s -1 can also be attributed to weak maser action, produced in gas with similar physical conditions (high density and temperature). It differs from the narrow spike emission mainly through a beaming factor that can be interpreted as an elongation factor for clumps of maser gas. The combination of narrow and broad emission can arise naturally from an ensemble of clumps of different elongations and orientations. In this unified picture the best fit to the data is provided by n H2 ≈ 2 × 10 6 cm -3 and N M/"V ≈ 4 × 10 11 cm -3 s, somewhat lower than the values obtained for just the spike component. The methanol maser clumps may be present in an expanding shell surrounding the H II region, similar to the material producing OH maser emission in this source.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Physical Sciences
Research Group:Astronomical sciences
Research Field:Galactic astronomy
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the physical sciences
UTAS Author:Ellingsen, SP (Professor Simon Ellingsen)
ID Code:22067
Year Published:2001
Web of Science® Times Cited:44
Deposited By:Physics
Deposited On:2001-08-01
Last Modified:2002-05-21

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