The intense line emission of OH masers is a perfect tracer of regions where new stars are born as well as of evolved stars, shedding large amounts of processed matter into the interstellar medium. From SKA deep surveys at 18 cm, where the maser lines from the ground-state of the OH molecule arise, we predict the discovery of more than 20000 sources of stellar and interstellar origin throughout the Galaxy. The study of this maser emission has many applications, including the determination of magnetic field strengths from polarisation measurements, studies of stellar kinematics using the precisely determined radial velocities, and distance determinations from VLBI astrometry. A new opportunity to study shocked gas in different galactic environments is expected to arise with the detection of lower luminosity masers. For the first time, larger numbers of OH masers will be detected in Local Group galaxies. New insights are expected in structure formation in galaxies by comparing maser populations in galaxies of different metallicity, as both their properties as well as their numbers depend on it. With the full capabilities of SKA, further maser transitions such as from excited OH and from methanol will be accessible, providing new tools to study the evolution of star-forming regions in particular.Advancing Astrophysics with the Square Kilometre Array
The RadioAstron space-VLBI mission has successfully detected extragalactic H2O MegaMaser emission regions at very long Earth to space baselines ranging between 1.4 and 26.7 Earth Diameters (ED). The preliminary results for two galaxies, NGC 3079 and NGC 4258, at baselines longer than one ED indicate masering environments and excitation conditions in these galaxies that are distinctly different. Further observations of NGC 4258 at longer baselines will reveal more of the physics of individual emission regions.
We report the detection with the ATCA of 6.7 GHz methanol emission towards OMC-1. The source has a size between 40 ′′ and 90 ′′ , is located to the south-east of Ori-KL and may coincide in position with the 25 GHz masers. The source may be an example of an interesting case recently predicted in theory where the transitions of traditionally different methanol maser classes show maser activity simultaneously. In addition, results of recent search for methanol masers from the 25 and 104.3 GHz transitions are reported.
The Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) has been used to make the first full polarization observations of 6.7 GHz methanol masers. Linear polarization was detected towards all four sources observed, at levels between a few and 10%, while none of the sources show circular polarization stronger than approximately 1.5%. Linear polarization appears to be more common in the 6.7 GHz methanol maser transition than it is for the 12.2 GHz transition, consistent with the hypothesis that the 6.7 GHz masers are more saturated.
Since the discovery of the 12.2 and 6.7 GHz methanol maser lines, these masers have been studied in great detail. Even in the earliest studies, it appeared that in some fraction of the sources, the maser spots were arranged in lines. This contrasts with the well-studied OH and water masers, in which the masers tended to be clustered almost randomly around a compact H ɪɪ region. Here I describe recent work to investigate the hypothesis that these lines represent edge-on circumstellar disks.
A B S T R A C TWe have used the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) to search for 6.7-GHz methanol maser emission towards 87 galaxies. We chose the target sources using several criteria, including far-IR luminosities and the presence of known OH megamasers. In addition, we searched for methanol masers in the nearby starburst galaxy NGC 253, making a full spectralline synthesis image. No emission was detected in any of the galaxies, with detection limits ranging from 25 to 75 mJy. This is surprising, given the close association of OH and methanol masers in Galactic star formation regions, and significantly constrains models of OH megamaser emission. This absence of maser emission may be a result of low methanol abundances in molecular clouds in starburst galaxies.
Astrophysical masers are one of the most readily detected signposts of high-mass star formation. Their presence indicates special conditions, probably indicative of a specific evolutionary phase. Masers also represent the ultimate high-resolution probe of star formation with the potential to reveal information on the kinematics and physical conditions within the region at milli-arcsecond resolution. To date this potential has largely remained unfulfilled, however, recent advances suggest that this will soon change.The key to unlocking the potential of masers lies in identifying where they fit within the star formation jigsaw puzzle. I will review recent high resolution observations of OH, water and methanol maser transitions and what they reveal. I also briefly discuss how multi-transition observations of OH and methanol masers are being used to constrain maser pumping models and through this estimate the physical conditions in the masing region.
We present multi–epoch VLBI observations of the methanol and water masers in the high–mass star formation region G 339.884−1.259, made using the Australian Long Baseline Array (LBA). Our sub–milliarcsecond precision measurements trace the proper motions of individual maser features in the plane of the sky. When combined with the direct line–of–sight radial velocity (vlsr), these measure the 3 D gas kinematics of the associated high–mass star formation region, allowing us to probe the dynamical processes to within 1000 AU of the core.
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