SiO maser emission from red supergiants across the Galaxy
I. Targets in massive star clusters
L. Verheyen⋆, M. Messineo and K. M. Menten
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
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Received: 13 October 2011
Accepted: 13 March 2012
Aims. Red supergiants (RSGs) are among the most luminous of all stars, easily detectable in external galaxies, and may ideally serve as kinematic tracers of Galactic structure. Some RSGs are surrounded by circumstellar envelopes detectable by their dust and molecular and, in particular, maser emission. This study consists of a search for maser emission from silicon monoxide (SiO) toward a significant number of RSGs that are members of massive stellar clusters, many of which have only recently been discovered. Further, we aim to relate the occurrence of maser action to properties of the host stars.
Methods. Using the IRAM 30 m telescope, we searched for maser emission in the J = 2−1 rotational transition within the first vibrationally excited state of SiO toward a sample of 88 RSGs.
Results. With an average rms noise level of 0.25 Jy, we detected maser emission in 15% of the sample, toward most of the sources for the first time in this transition. The peak of the emission provides accurate radial velocities for the RSGs. The dependence of the detection rate on infrared colors supports a radiative pumping mechanism for the SiO masers.
Key words: stars: AGB and post-AGB / circumstellar matter / masers
© ESO, 2012