Could kilomasers pinpoint supermassive stars?

Katarzyna Nowak, Martin G. H. Krause, Daniel Schaerer

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A strong nuclear kilomaser, W1, has been found in the nearby galaxy NGC 253, associated with a forming super star cluster. Kilomasers could arise from the accretion disc around supermassive stars (>10^3 Msun), hypothetical objects that have been proposed as polluters responsible for the chemical peculiarities in globular clusters. The supermassive stars would form via runaway collisions, simultaneously with the cluster. Their discs are perturbed by stellar flybys, inspiralling and colliding stars. This raises the question if an accretion disc would at all be able to survive in such a dynamic environment and mase water lines. We investigated what the predicted maser spectrum of such a disc would look like using 2D hydrodynamic simulations and compared this to the W1 kilomaser. We derived model maser spectra from the simulations by using a general maser model for appropriate disc temperatures. All our model discs survived. The model maser spectra for the most destructive case for the simulations of M = 1000 Msun are a reasonable match with the W1 kilomaser spectrum in terms of scaling, flux values and some of the signal trends. Details in the spectrum suggest that a star of a few 1000 Msun might fit even better, with 10,000 Msun clearly giving too large velocities. Our investigations thus support the hypothesis that kilomasers could pinpoint supermassive stars.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5507-5520
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2022


  • astro-ph.SR
  • astro-ph.GA


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