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In this proceeding paper, we introduce the recent results of Galactic maser astrometry by mainly focusing on those obtained with Japanese VLBI array VERA. So far we have obtained parallaxes for 86 sources including preliminary results, and combination with the data obtained with VLBA/BeSSeL provides astrometric results for 159 sources. With these most updated results we conduct preliminary determinations of Galactic fundamental parameters, obtaining R0 = 8.16 ± 0.26 kpc and Θ0 = 237 ± 8 km/s. We also derive the rotation curve of the Milky Way Galaxy and confirm the previous results that the rotation curve is fairly flat between 5 kpc and 16 kpc, while a remarkable deviation is seen toward the Galactic center region. In addition to the results on the Galactic structure, we also present brief overviews on other science topics related to masers conducted with VERA, and also discuss the future prospect of the project.
We present results of astrometric observations of S269 H2O maser performed with VERA (VLBI Exploration of Radio Astrometry). We have monitored the positions of S269 H2O masers for 1 year and successfully detected its parallax to be 189±8 micro-arcsecond. This corresponds to a source distance of 5.28+0.24−0.22 kpc, and is the smallest parallax (and thus the largest distance) that has ever been measured by means of annual parallax. Proper motions of S269 H2O maser were also measured and used to determine the Galactic rotation velocity at the position of S269. Our measurements show that the Galactic rotation velocity at S269 is the same to that at the Sun within 3%, indicating that the Galactic rotation curve is flat out to R~13 kpc.
We have carried out multi-epoch VLBI observations of the H2O maser sources associated with young stellar objects (YSOs) in nearby molecular clouds with VERA (VLBI Exploration of Radio Astrometry), which is a newly constructed VLBI network in Japan (Kobayashi et al. 2003). The main goal of our study is to measure the absolute proper motions and distances to nearby molecular clouds within 1 kpc from the Sun, to reveal their 3-dimensional structures and dynamical properties. Using the VERA dual-beam receiving system (Honma et al. 2003), we have carried out phase-referencing VLBI observations and measured annual parallaxes and absolute proper motions of the H2O maser features with respect to the extragalactic radio sources. We have successfully detected the annual parallax of one of the H2O maser features in Orion KL to be 2.29±0.10 mas, corresponding to the distance of 437±19 pc from the Sun (Hirota et al. 2007). In addition, the annual parallax of SVS13 in NGC 1333 is also determined to be4.10±0.17 mas, corresponding to the distance of 244±10 pc from the Sun, although the life time of the maser features are only 6 months. The absolute proper motions of the H2O maser features associated with Orion KL and NGC 1333 are derived, possibly indicating the outflow motions from the YSOs as well as the systemic motions of the powering sources.
VLBI – Very Long Baseline Interferometry – is a radio interferometry technique which provides the highest spatial resolution observations to human kind. But at the present, the accuracy of the astrometry observations is limited by the atmospheric light path variations and instrumental phase errors, and only group delay measurements are used. To overcome these error factors, we have developed the VERA system, which has the first dual beam system. VERA is the first VLBI array to be free from the atmospheric phase fluctuations. It has four VLBI stations with 2300-km maximum baseline length in Japan. To compensate phase fluctuations of interferometer visibilities, which are mainly caused by the atmosphere, the VERA antenna observes two objects simultaneously. In order to do such observations, VERA has a two-receiver system, which tracks a focal plane according to a separation angle between observing objects. By comparing the visibility phase between two beams, simultaneous phase referencing VLBI will be achieved. The goal accuracy of astrometry observations is 10 micro-arcseconds, which makes annual parallax and proper motion measurements of galactic maser objects possible. 10 micro-arcsecond accuracy is equivalent to 10% distance accuracy for the galactic centre. This becomes 20% accuracy at the opposite side of the galaxy. The main scientific targets of VERA are to make a 3-dimensional maser object map of the galaxy and reveal the velocity field of the galaxy. This will show the mass distribution of the galaxy. Currently, construction of four stations is complete, and test observations are underway. We show the scientific goal, current results and instrumental accuracy of VERA.To search for other articles by the author(s) go to: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abstract_service.html
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