Over 100 trigonometric parallaxes and proper motions for masers associated with young, high-mass stars have been measured with the Bar and Spiral Structure Legacy Survey, a Very Long Basline Array key science project, the European VLBI Network, and the Japanese VERA project. These measurements provide strong evidence for the existence of spiral arms in the Milky Way, accurately locating many arm segments and yielding spiral pitch angles ranging from about 7 • to 20 • . The widths of spiral arms increase with distance from the Galactic center. Fitting axially symmetric models of the Milky Way with the 3-dimensional position and velocity information and conservative priors for the solar and average source peculiar motions, we estimate the distance to the Galactic center, R 0 , to be 8.34 ± 0.16 kpc, a circular rotation speed at the Sun, Θ 0 , to be 240 ± 8 km s −1 , and a rotation curve that is nearly flat (i.e., a slope of −0.2 ± 0.4 km s −1 kpc −1 )
We are using the Very Long Baseline Array and the Japanese VLBI Exploration of Radio Astronomy project to measure trigonometric parallaxes and proper motions of masers found in high-mass star-forming regions across the Milky Way. Early results from 18 sources locate several spiral arms. The Perseus spiral arm has a pitch angle of 16 • ± 3 • , which favors four rather than two spiral arms for the Galaxy. Combining positions, distances, proper motions, and radial velocities yields complete 3-dimensional kinematic information. We find that star forming regions on average are orbiting the Galaxy ≈ 15 km s −1 slower than expected for circular orbits. By fitting the measurements to a model of the Galaxy, we estimate the distance to the Galactic center R 0 = 8.4 ± 0.6 kpc and a circular rotation speed Θ 0 = 254 ± 16 km s −1 . The ratio Θ 0 /R 0 can be determined to higher accuracy than either parameter individually, and we find it -2to be 30.3 ± 0.9 km s −1 kpc −1 , in good agreement with the angular rotation rate determined from the proper motion of Sgr A*. The data favor a rotation curve for the Galaxy that is nearly flat or slightly rising with Galactocentric distance. Kinematic distances are generally too large, sometimes by factors greater than two; they can be brought into better agreement with the trigonometric parallaxes by increasing Θ 0 /R 0 from the IAU recommended value of 25.9 km s −1 kpc −1 to a value near 30 km s −1 kpc −1 . We offer a "revised" prescription for calculating kinematic distances and their uncertainties, as well as a new approach for defining Galactic coordinates. Finally, our estimates of Θ 0 and Θ 0 /R 0 , when coupled with direct estimates of R 0 , provide evidence that the rotation curve of the Milky Way is similar to that of the Andromeda galaxy, suggesting that the dark matter halos of these two dominant Local Group galaxy are comparably massive.
We have used the Very Long Baseline Array to measure the trigonometric parallax of several member stars of the Orion Nebula Cluster showing non-thermal radio emission. We have determined the distance to the cluster to be 414 ± 7 pc. Our distance determination allows for an improved calibration of luminosities and ages of young stars. We have also measured the proper motions of four cluster stars which, when accurate radial velocities are measured, will put strong constraints on the origin of the cluster.
Active galactic nuclei, which are powered by long-term accretion onto central supermassive black holes, produce relativistic jets with lifetimes of at least one million years, and the observation of the birth of such a jet is therefore unlikely. Transient accretion onto a supermassive black hole, for example through the tidal disruption of a stray star, thus offers a rare opportunity to study the birth of a relativistic jet. On 25 March 2011, an unusual transient source (Swift J164449.3+573451) was found, potentially representing such an accretion event. Here we report observations spanning centimetre to millimetre wavelengths and covering the first month of evolution of a luminous radio transient associated with Swift J164449.3+573451. The radio transient coincides with the nucleus of an inactive galaxy. We conclude that we are seeing a newly formed relativistic outflow, launched by transient accretion onto a million-solar-mass black hole. A relativistic outflow is not predicted in this situation, but we show that the tidal disruption of a star naturally explains the observed high-energy properties and radio luminosity and the inferred rate of such events. The weaker beaming in the radio-frequency spectrum relative to γ-rays or X-rays suggests that radio searches may uncover similar events out to redshifts of z ≈ 6.
International audienceEarth's nearest candidate supermassive black hole lies at the centre of the Milky Way. Its electromagnetic emission is thought to be powered by radiatively inefficient accretion of gas from its environment, which is a standard mode of energy supply for most galactic nuclei. X-ray measurements have already resolved a tenuous hot gas component from which the black hole can be fed. The magnetization of the gas, however, which is a crucial parameter determining the structure of the accretion flow, remains unknown. Strong magnetic fields can influence the dynamics of accretion, remove angular momentum from the infalling gas, expel matter through relativistic jets and lead to synchrotron emission such as that previously observed. Here we report multi-frequency radio measurements of a newly discovered pulsar close to the Galactic Centre and show that the pulsar's unusually large Faraday rotation (the rotation of the plane of polarization of the emission in the presence of an external magnetic field) indicates that there is a dynamically important magnetic field near the black hole. If this field is accreted down to the event horizon it provides enough magnetic flux to explain the observed emission-from radio to X-ray wavelengths-from the black hole
We compile and analyze approximately 200 trigonometric parallaxes and proper motions of molecular masers associated with very young high-mass stars. Most of the measurements come from the BeSSeL Survey using the VLBA and
Context. Whether the Cygnus X complex consists of one physically connected region of star formation or of multiple independent regions projected close together on the sky has been debated for decades. The main reason for this puzzling scenario is the lack of trustworthy distance measurements. Aims. We aim to understand the structure and dynamics of the star-forming regions toward Cygnus X by accurate distance and proper motion measurements. Methods. To measure trigonometric parallaxes, we observed 6.7 GHz methanol and 22 GHz water masers with the European VLBI Network and the Very Long Baseline Array. Results. We measured the trigonometric parallaxes and proper motions of five massive star-forming regions toward the Cygnus X complex and report the following distances within a 10% accuracy: 1.30 +0.07 −0.07 kpc for W 75N, 1.46 +0.09 −0.08 kpc for DR 20, 1.50 +0.08 −0.07 kpc for DR 21, 1.36 +0.12 −0.11 kpc for IRAS 20290+4052, and 3.33 +0.11 −0.11 kpc for AFGL 2591. While the distances of W 75N, DR 20, DR 21, and IRAS 20290+4052 are consistent with a single distance of 1.40 ± 0.08 kpc for the Cygnus X complex, AFGL 2591 is located at a much greater distance than previously assumed. The space velocities of the four star-forming regions in the Cygnus X complex do not suggest an expanding Strömgren sphere.
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