Based on sub-arcsecond Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and Submillimeter Array (SMA) 1.3 mm continuum images of the massive protocluster NGC 6334I obtained in 2015 and 2008, we find that the dust emission from MM1 has increased by a factor of 4.0±0.3 during the intervening years, and undergone a significant change in morphology. The continuum emission from the other cluster members (MM2, MM4 and the UCHII region MM3=NGC 6334F) has remained constant. Long term single-dish maser monitoring at HartRAO finds that multiple maser species toward NGC 6334I flared beginning in early 2015, a few months before our ALMA observation, and some persist in that state. New ALMA images obtained in 2016 July-August at 1.1 and 0.87 mm confirm the changes with respect to SMA 0.87 mm images from 2008, and indicate that the (sub)millimeter flaring has continued for at least a year. The excess continuum emission, centered on the hypercompact HII region MM1B, is extended and elongated (1.6 ′′ × 1.0 ′′ ≈ 2100 × 1300 au) with multiple peaks, suggestive of general heating of the surrounding subcomponents of MM1, some of which may trace clumps in a fragmented disk rather than separate protostars. In either case, these remarkable increases in maser and dust emission provide direct observational evidence of a sudden accretion event in the growth of a massive protostar yielding a sustained luminosity surge by a factor of 70 ± 20, analogous to the largest events in simulations by Meyer et al. (2017). This target provides an excellent opportunity to assess the impact of such a rare event on a protocluster over many years.
We report the first sub-arcsecond VLA imaging of 6 GHz continuum, methanol maser, and excitedstate hydroxyl maser emission toward the massive protostellar cluster NGC6334I following the recent 2015 outburst in (sub)millimeter continuum toward MM1, the strongest (sub)millimeter source in the protocluster. In addition to detections toward the previously known 6.7 GHz Class II methanol maser sites in the hot core MM2 and the UCHII region MM3 (NGC6334F), we find new maser features toward several components of MM1, along with weaker features ∼ 1 ′′ north, west, and southwest of MM1, and toward the non-thermal radio continuum source CM2. None of these areas have heretofore exhibited Class II methanol maser emission in three decades of observations. The strongest MM1 masers trace a dust cavity, while no masers are seen toward the strongest dust sources MM1A, 1B and 1D. The locations of the masers are consistent with a combination of increased radiative pumping due to elevated dust grain temperature following the outburst, the presence of infrared photon propagation cavities, and the presence of high methanol column densities as indicated by ALMA images of thermal transitions. The non-thermal radio emission source CM2 (2 ′′ north of MM1) also exhibits new maser emission from the excited 6.035 and 6.030 GHz OH lines. Using the Zeeman effect, we measure a line-of-sight magnetic field of +0.5 to +3.7 mG toward CM2. In agreement with previous studies, we also detect numerous methanol and excited OH maser spots toward the UCHII region MM3, with predominantly negative line-of-sight magnetic field strengths of −2 to −5 mG and an intriguing south-north field reversal.
We present (sub)millimeter imaging at 0. 5 resolution of the massive star-forming region G358.93−0.03 acquired in multiple epochs at 2 and 3 months following the recent flaring of its 6.7 GHz CH 3 OH maser emission. Using SMA and ALMA, we have discovered 14 new Class II CH 3 OH maser lines ranging in frequency from 199 to 361 GHz, which originate mostly from v t =1 torsionally-excited transitions and include one v t =2 transition. The latter detection provides the first observational evidence that Class II maser pumping involves levels in the v t =2 state. The masers are associated with the brightest continuum source (MM1), which hosts a line-rich hot core. The masers present a con-
As a product of the maser monitoring program with the 26 m telescope of the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO), we present an unprecedented, contemporaneous flaring event of 10 maser transitions in hydroxyl, methanol, and water that began in 2015 January in the massive star-forming region NGC 6334I in the velocity range −10 to −2 km s −1 . The 6.7 GHz methanol and 22.2 GHz water masers began flaring within 22 days of each other, while the 12.2 GHz methanol and 1665 MHz hydroxyl masers flared 80 and 113 days later respectively. The 1665 MHz, 6.7 GHz, and 22.2 GHz masers have all remained in their flared state for nearly 3 years. The brightest flaring components increased by factors of 66, 21, 26, and 20 in the 12.2 and 6.7 GHz methanol, 1665 MHz hydroxyl and 22.2 GHz water maser transitions respectively; some weaker components increased by up to a factor of 145. We also report new maser emission in the 1720, 6031, and 6035 MHz OH lines and the 23.1 GHz methanol line, along with the detection of only the fifth 4660 MHz OH maser. We note the correlation of this event with the extraordinary (sub)millimeter continuum outburst from the massive protostellar system NGC 6334I-MM1 and discuss the implications of the observed time lags between different maser velocity components on the nature of the outburst. Finally, we identify two earlier epoch maser flaring events likely associated with this object, which suggest a recurring accretive phenomenon that generates powerful radiative outbursts.
Context. Class II methanol masers are signposts of massive young stellar objects (MYSOs). Recent evidence shows that flares of these masers are driven by MYSO accretion bursts. Thus, maser monitoring can be used to identify such bursts which are hard to discover otherwise. Infrared observations reveal burst-induced changes in the spectral energy distribution (first and foremost a luminosity increase), which provide valuable information on a very intense phase of high-mass star formation. Aims. In mid-January 2019, flaring of the 6.7 GHz CH3OH maser (hereafter maser) of the MYSO G358.93-0.03 (hereafter G358) was reported. The international maser community initiated an extensive observational campaign which revealed extraordinary maser activity and yielded the detection of numerous new masering transitions. Interferometric imaging with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array and the Submillimeter Array resolved the maser emitting core of the star forming region and proved the association of the masers with the brightest continuum source (MM1), which hosts a hot molecular core. These observations, however, failed to detect a significant rise in the (sub)millimeter dust continuum emission. Therefore, we performed near-infrared (NIR) and far-infrared (FIR) observations to prove or disprove whether the CH3OH flare was driven by an accretion burst. Methods. NIR imaging with the Gamma-Ray Burst Optical/Near-infrared Detector has been acquired and integral-field spectroscopy with the Field-Imaging Far-Infrared Line Spectrometer (FIFI-LS) aboard the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) was carried out on two occasions to detect possible counterparts to the (sub)millimeter sources and compare their photometry to archival measurements. The comparison of pre-burst and burst spectral energy distributions is of crucial importance to judge whether a substantial luminosity increase, caused by an accretion burst, is present and if it triggered the maser flare. Radiative transfer modeling of the spectral energy distribution (SED) of the dust continuum emission at multiple epochs provides valuable information on the bursting MYSO. Results. The FIR fluxes of MM1 measured with FIFI-LS exceed those from Herschel significantly, which clearly confirms the presence of an accretion burst. The second epoch data, taken about 16 months later, still show increased fluxes. Our radiative transfer modeling yielded major burst parameters and suggests that the MYSO features a circumstellar disk which might be transient. From the pre-burst, burst, and post-burst SEDs, conclusions on heating and cooling time-scales could be drawn. Circumstances of the burst-induced maser relocation have been explored. Conclusions. The verification of the accretion burst from G358 is another confirmation that Class II methanol maser flares represent an alert for such events. Thus, monitoring of these masers greatly enhances the chances of identifying MYSOs during periods of intense growth. The few events known to date already indicate that there is a broad range in burst strength and duration as well as environmental characteristics. The G358 event is the shortest and least luminous accretion burst known to date. According to models, bursts of this kind occur most often.
We compare multi-epoch sub-arcsecond VLA imaging of the 22 GHz water masers toward the massive protocluster NGC 6334I observed before and after the recent outburst of MM1B in (sub)millimeter continuum. Since the outburst, the water maser emission toward MM1 has substantially weakened. Simultaneously, the strong water masers associated with the synchrotron continuum point source CM2 have flared by a mean factor of 6.5 (to 4.2 kJy) with highly-blueshifted features (up to 70 km s −1 from LSR) becoming more prominent. The strongest flaring water masers reside 3000 au north of MM1B and form a remarkable bow shock pattern whose vertex coincides with CM2 and tail points back to MM1B. Excited OH masers trace a secondary bow shock located ∼120 au downstream. ALMA images of CS (6-5) reveal a highly-collimated north-south structure encompassing the flaring masers to the north and the non-flaring masers to the south seen in projection toward the MM3-UCHII region. Proper motions of the southern water masers over 5.3 years indicate a bulk projected motion of 117 km s −1 southward from MM1B with a dynamical time of 170 yr. We conclude that CM2, the water masers, and many of the excited OH masers trace the interaction of the high velocity bipolar outflow from MM1B with ambient molecular gas. The previously-excavated outflow cavity has apparently allowed the radiative energy of the current outburst to propagate freely until terminating at the northern bow shock where it strengthened the masers. Additionally, water masers have been detected toward MM7 for the first time, and a highly collimated CS (6-5) outflow has been detected toward MM4.
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