ATLASGAL -- Relationship between dense star forming clumps and interstellar masers

S. J. Billington, J. S. Urquhart, C. König, H. Beuther, S. L. Breen, K. M. Menten, J. Campbell-White, S. P. Ellingsen, M. A. Thompson, T. J. T. Moore, D. J. Eden, W. -J. Kim, S. Leurini

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We have used catalogues from several Galactic plane surveys and dedicated observations to investigate the relationship between various maser species and Galactic star forming clumps, as identified by the ATLASGAL survey. The maser transitions of interest are the 6.7 & 12.2 GHz methanol masers, 22.2 GHz water masers, and the masers emitting in the four ground-state hyperfine structure transitions of hydroxyl. We find clump association rates for the water, hydroxyl and methanol masers to be 56, 39 and 82 per cent respectively, within the Galactic longitude range of 60{\deg} > $l$ > -60{\deg}. We investigate the differences in physical parameters between maser associated clumps and the full ATLASGAL sample, and find that clumps coincident with maser emission are more compact with increased densities and luminosities. However, we find the physical conditions within the clumps are similar for the different maser species. A volume density threshold of $n$(H$_{2}$) > 10$^{4.1}$ cm$^{-3}$ for the 6.7 GHz methanol maser found in our previous study is shown to be consistent across for all maser species investigated. We find limits that are required for the production of maser emission to be 500 L$_{\odot}$ and 6 M$_{\odot}$ respectively. The evolutionary phase of maser associated clumps is investigated using the L/M ratio of clumps coincident with maser emission, and these have similar L/M ranges (~10$^{0.2}$ - 10$^{2.7}$ L$_{\odot}$/M$_{\odot}$) regardless of the associated transitions. This implies that the conditions required for the production of maser emission only occur during a relatively narrow period during a star's evolution. Lower limits of the statistical lifetimes for each maser species are derived, ranging from ~0.4 - 2 x 10$^{4}$ yrs and are in good agreement with the "straw man" evolutionary model previously presented.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2020


  • astro-ph.GA


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