Major structures of the inner galaxy delineated by 6.7 GHz methanol masers

J.A. Green, J.L. Caswell, N. McClure-Griffiths, A. Avison, S.L. Breen, M. Burton, S. Ellingsen, G.A. Fuller, M.D. Gray, M. Pestalozzi, M.A. Thompson, M. Voronkov

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We explore the longitude-velocity distribution of 6.7 GHz methanol masers in the context of the inner structure of our Galaxy. We analyze the correlation in velocities within this distribution and identify density enhancements indicating large-scale regions of enhanced star formation. These are interpreted as the starting points of the spiral arms and the interaction of the Galactic bar with the 3 kpc arms. The methanol masers support the presence of a long thin bar with a 45 degrees orientation. Signatures of the full 3 kpc arm structure are seen, including a prominent tangent at approximately -22 degrees Galactic longitude. We compare this distribution with existing models of the gas dynamics of our Galaxy. The 3 kpc arm structure appears likely to correspond to the radius of corotation resonance of the bar, with the bar on its inner surface and the starting points of the spiral arms on its outer surface.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • galaxy : kinematics and dynamics
  • galaxy : structure
  • ISM : kinematics and dynamics
  • masers
  • stars : massive


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