To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
We are performing systematic observation studies on the Galactic interstellar isotopic ratios, including 18O/17O, 12C/13C, 14N/15N and 32S/34S. Our strategy focuses on combination of multi-transition observation data toward large samples with different Galactocentric distances. Our preliminary results show positive Galactic radial gradients of 18O/17O and 12C/13C. In both cases, the ratio increases with the Galactocentric distance, which agrees with the inside-out scenario of our Galaxy. Observations of other isotopes such as 14N/15N and 32S/34S are on-going.
The dwarf galaxies in the Local Group (LG) reveal a surprising amount of spatial structuring. In particular, almost all non-satellite dwarfs belong to one of two planes that show a very pronounced symmetry. In order to determine if these structures in the LG are dynamically stable or, alternatively, if they only represent transient alignments, proper motion measurements of these galaxies are required. A viable method to derive proper motions is offered by VLBI studies of 22-GHz water (and 6.7-GHz methanol) maser lines in star-forming regions.
In 2016, in the framework of the Early Science Program of the Sardinia Radio Telescope (SRT), we have conducted an extensive observational campaign to map the entire optical body of all the LG dwarf galaxies that belong to the two planes, at C and K band, in a search for methanol and water maser emission.
Here, we outline the project and present its first results on 3 targets, NGC 6822, IC 1613, and WLM. While no luminous maser emission has been detected in these galaxies, a number of interesting weaker detections has been obtained, associated with particularly active star forming regions. In addition, we have produced deep radio continuum maps for these galaxies, aimed at investigating their star forming activity and providing an improved assessment of star formation rates in these galaxies.
In our attempt to investigate the basic active galactic nucleus (AGN) paradigm requiring a centrally located supermassive black hole (SMBH), a close to Keplerian accretion disk and a jet perpendicular to its plane, we have searched for radio continuum in galaxies with H2O megamasers in their disks. We observed 18 such galaxies with the Very Large Baseline Array in C band (5 GHz, ~2 mas resolution) and we detected 5 galaxies at 8 σ or higher levels. For those sources for which the maser data is available, the positions of masers and those of the 5 GHz radio continuum sources coincide within the uncertainties, and the radio continuum is perpendicular to the maser disk’s orientation within the position angle uncertainties.
Since the IAU (maser-)Symposium 287 in Stellenbosch/South Africa (Jan. 2012), great progress has been achieved in studying extragalactic maser sources. Sensitivity has reached a level allowing for dedicated maser surveys of extragalactic objects. These included, during the last years, water vapor (H2O), methanol (CH3OH), and formaldehyde (H2CO), while surveys related to hydroxyl (OH), cyanoacetylene (HC3N) and ammonia (NH3) may soon become (again) relevant. Overall, with the upgraded Very Large Array (VLA), the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), FAST (Five hundred meter Aperture Synthesis Telescope) and the low frequency arrays APERTIF (APERture Tile in Focus), ASKAP (Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder) and MeerKAT (Meer Karoo Array Telescope), extragalactic maser studies are expected to flourish during the upcoming years. The following article provides a brief sketch of past achievements, ongoing projects and future perspectives.
Analyzing archival data from different telescopes, H2O megamaser Seyfert 2s appeared to exhibit higher nuclear radio luminosities than non-masing Seyfert 2s (Zhang et al. 2012). This has been confirmed by our follow-up study on multi-band (11, 6, 3.6, 2, 1.3 cm) radio properties of maser host Seyfert 2s, through systematic Effelsberg observations (Liu et al. 2017). The nuclear radio luminosity was supposed to be a suitable indicator to guide future AGN maser searches. Thus we performed a pilot survey with the Effelsberg telescope on H2O maser emission toward a small sample of radio-bright Seyfert 2 galaxies with relatively higher redshift (>0.04). Our pilot survey led to one new megamaser source and one additional possible detection, which reflects our success in selecting H2O megamaser candidates compared to previous observations (higher detection rate, larger distance). Our successful selection technique choosing Seyfert 2s with radio-bright nuclei may provide good guiding for future H2O megamaser surveys. Therefore we are conducting a large systematic survey toward a big Seyfert 2 sample with such radio-bright nuclei. Detections of luminous H2O masers at large distance (z>0.04) may hold the great potential to increase our knowledge on the central highly obscured but still very enigmatic regions of active Seyfert galaxies (Zhang et al. 2017).
The intensity ratios of HCO+/HCN and HNC/HCN (1-0) reveal the relative influence of star formation and active galactic nuclei (AGN) or black holes on the circum-nuclear gas of a galaxy, allowing the identification of X-ray dominated regions (XDRs) and Photon-dominated regions (PDRs). It is not always clear in the literature how this intensity ratio calculation has been, or should be performed. This paper discusses ratio calculation methods for interferometric data.
We have used the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) 12 m telescope at 218 GHz to observe molecular clouds simultaneously in the JKaKc = 303→202, 322→221, and 321→220 transitions of para-H2CO to determine kinetic temperatures of the dense gas in the central molecular zone of the Galaxy. Gas kinetic temperatures for individual molecular clouds range from 55 to 125 K or even higher. The molecular clouds at high temperatures may be heated by turbulent dissipation and/or cosmic-rays.
Attempting to distangle density and kinetic temperature of the star forming molecular gas in the central regions of galaxies, we have embarked on a project involving sensitive measurements of a variety of formaldehyde (H2CO) and ammonia (NH3) transitions. Preliminary results, based on observations from the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and the Very Large Array (VLA) are summarized and an outline for the entire project is given.
Water vapor megamasers from the center of active galaxies provide a powerful tool to trace accretion disks at sub-parsec resolution and, through an entirely geometrical method, measure direct distances to galaxies up to 200 Mpc. The Megamaser Cosmology Project (MCP) is formed by a team of astronomers with the aim of identifying new maser systems, and mapping their emission at high angular resolution to determine their distance. Two types of observations are necessary to measure a distance: single-dish monitoring to measure the acceleration of gas in the disk, and sensitive VLBI imaging to measure the angular size of the disk, measure the rotation curve, and model radial displacement of the maser feature. The ultimate goal of the MCP is to make a precise measurement of H0 by measuring such distances to at least 10 maser galaxies in the Hubble flow. We present here the preliminary results from a new maser system, Mrk 1419. Through a model of the rotation from the systemic masers assuming a narrow ring, and combining these results with the acceleration measurement from the Green Bank Telescope, we determine a distance to Mrk 1419 of 81 ± 10 Mpc. Given that the disk shows a significant warp that may not be entirely traced by our current observations, more sensitive observations and more sophisticated disk modeling will be essential to improve our distance estimation to this galaxy.
We monitored the 22 GHz maser line in the lensed quasar MG J0414+0534 at z = 2.64 with the 300-m Arecibo telescope for almost two years to detect possible additional maser components and to measure a potential velocity drift of the lines. The main maser line profile is complex and can be resolved into a number of broad features with line widths of 30-160 km s−1. A new maser component was tentatively detected in October 2008 at a velocity of +470 km s−1. After correcting for the estimated lens magnification, we find that the H2O isotropic luminosity of the maser in MG J0414+0534 is ~26,000 solar luminosities, making this source the most luminous ever discovered. Both the main line peak and continuum flux densities are surprisingly stable throughout the period of the observations. An upper limit on the velocity drift of the main peak of the line has been estimated from our observations and is of the order of 2 km s−1 per year. We discuss the results of the monitoring in terms of the possible nature of the maser emission, associated with an accretion disk or a radio jet. This is the first time that such a study is performed in a water maser source at high redshift, potentially allowing us to study the parsec-scale environment around a powerful radio source at cosmological distances.
The Hubble constant H0 describes not only the expansion of local space at redshift z ~ 0, but is also a fundamental parameter determining the evolution of the universe. Recent measurements of H0 anchored on Cepheid observations have reached a precision of several percent. However, this problem is so important that confirmation from several methods is needed to better constrain H0 and, with it, dark energy and the curvature of space. A particularly direct method involves the determination of distances to local galaxies far enough to be part of the Hubble flow through water vapor (H2O) masers orbiting nuclear supermassive black holes. The goal of this article is to describe the relevance of H0 with respect to fundamental cosmological questions and to summarize recent progress of the ‘Megamaser Cosmology Project’ (MCP) related to the Hubble constant.
With a goal toward deriving the physical conditions in external galaxies, we present a survey of formaldehyde (H2CO) and ammonia (NH3) emission and absorption in a sample of starburst galaxies using the Green Bank Telescope. By extending well-established techniques used to derive the spatial density in star formation regions in our own Galaxy, we show how the relative intensity of the 110−111 and 211−212 K-doublet transitions of H2CO can provide an accurate densitometer for the active star formation environments found in starburst galaxies (cf. Mangum et al. 2008). Similarly, we employ the well-established technique of using the relative intensities of the (1,1), (2,2), and (4,4) transitions of NH3 to derive the kinetic temperature in starburst galaxies. Our measurements of the kinetic temperature constrained spatial density in our starburst galaxy sample represent the first mean density measurements made toward starburst galaxies. We note a disparity between kinetic temperature measurements derived assuming direct coupling to dust and those derived from our NH3 measurements which points to the absolute need for direct gas kinetic temperature measurements using an appropriate molecular probe. Finally, our spatial density measurements point to a rough constancy to the spatial density (104.5 to 105.5 cm-3) in our starburst galaxy sample. This implies that the Schmidt-Kennicutt relation between LIR and Mdense: (1) Is a measure of the dense gas mass reservoir available to form stars, and (2) Is not directly dependent upon a higher average density driving the star formation process in the most luminous starburst galaxies.
For three prototypical galaxies (IC 342, M 82, Antennae), we
successfully applied PDR models to explain observed CO line ratios
simultaneously with atomic fine structure lines. The model well
confines the physical parameters of the gas, which is extremely
clumped to allow the UV radiation to penetrate through the molecular
clouds over large distances.
We demonstrate the diagnostic value of para-formaldehyde (p-H2CO) as a
tracer of the density and the temperature of the molecular gas in external
galaxies using the prototypical starburst galaxy M 82 as an example.
We also report the discovery of the methanol line CH3OH(42 → 31, E)
from M 82.
The behavior of molecular tracers of the high-density star-forming
ISM provides a diagnostics tool for luminous FIR galaxies. All
molecules react differently to the physical and chemical
environment and their collective behavior is indicative of the
excitation of the ISM and its evolutionary state. This paper
describes efforts to diagnose the nuclear medium through
Measuring the proper motions and geometric distances of galaxies within the Local Group is very important for our understanding of its history, present state and future. Currently, proper motion measurements using optical methods are limited only to the closest companions of the Milky Way. However, given that VLBI provides the best angular resolution in astronomy and phase-referencing techniques yield astrometric accuracies of ≈ 10 micro-arcseconds, measurements of proper motions and angular rotation rates of galaxies out to a distance of ~ 1 Mpc are feasible. This paper presents results of VLBI observations in regions of H2O maser activity of the Local Group galaxies M33 and IC 10. Two masing regions in M33 are on opposite sides of the galaxy. This allows a comparison of the angular rotation rate (as measured by the VLBI observations) with the known inclination and rotation speed of the Hi gas disk leading to a determination of a geometric distance of 730 ± 100 ± 135 kpc. The first error indicates the statistical error of the proper-motion measurements, while the second error is the systematic error of the rotation model. Within the errors, this distance is consistent with the most recent Cepheid distance to M33. Since all position measurements were made relative to an extragalactic background source, the proper motion of M33 has also been measured. This provides a three dimensional velocity vector of M33, showing that this galaxy is moving with a velocity of 190 ± 59 km s−1 relative to the Milky Way. For IC 10, we obtain a motion of 215 ± 42 km s−1 relative to the Milky Way. These measurements promise a new handle on dynamical models for the Local Group and the mass and dark matter halo of Andromeda and the Milky Way.
So far, few direct sub-arcsecond resolution studies exist of the dense material that, according to the standard unified scheme, should obscure the central engines of radio galaxies. In the following, observations are presented that highlight the nuclear environment of the prototypical X-shaped FR II galaxy 3C 403. To date, it is the only powerful radio galaxy known to host a water megamaser.
General characteristics of methanol (CH3OH) maser emission are summarized. It is shown that methanol maser sources are concentrated in the spiral arms. Most of the methanol maser sources from the Perseus arm are associated with embedded stellar clusters and a considerable portion is situated close to compact HII regions. Almost 1/3 of the Perseus Arm sources lie at the edges of optically identified HII regions which means that massive star formation in the Perseus Arm is to a great extent triggered by local phenomena. A multiline analysis of the methanol masers allows us to determine the physical parameters in the regions of maser formation. Maser modelling shows that class II methanol masers can be pumped by the radiation of the warm dust as well as by free-free emission of a hypercompact region (hcHII) with a turnover frequency exceeding 100 GHz. Methanol masers of both classes can reside in the vicinity of hcHIIs. Modelling shows that periodic changes of maser fluxes can be reproduced by variations of the dust temperature by a few percent which may be caused by variations in the brightness of the central young stellar object reflecting the character of the accretion process. Sensitive observations have shown that the masers with low flux densities can still have considerable amplification factors. The analysis of class I maser surveys allows us to identify four distinct regimes that differ by the series of their brightest lines.
We have undertaken a comprehensive search for the first excited state of OH emission (J=5/2, 2Π3/2) in Planetary and Proto- Planetary Nebulae. With the Effelsberg telescope, we confirm the detection of Vy 2–2 and we present one new detection in the pPN K3−35. This detection has been confirmed by subsequent observations made at 6035 MHz with the MERLIN interferometer. This is the first detection of 6 GHz OH maser emission from a post-AGB star.
We have searched for 22 GHz water maser emission in a sample of FIR bright galaxies and detected two new kilomaser sources. The newly detected masers have been promptly followed-up using interferometric observations to derive positions and constraints on the size and brightness temperature of the emitting spots. Here we report results related to the newly detected kilomasers, also including the well-known kilomaser source in in NGC 253. These are discussed within the framework of the kilomaser/megamaser dichotomy.