Volume 434, Number 1, April IV 2005
|Page(s)||201 - 211|
|Section||Interstellar and circumstellar matter|
|Published online||01 April 2005|
Search for radiative pumping lines of OH masers
I. The 34.6 μm absorption line towards 1612 MHz OH maser sources
National Astronomical Observatories/Yunnan Observatory, CAS, PO Box 110, Kunming, 650011, PR China e-mail: email@example.com
2 N. Copernicus Astronomical Center, Rabiańska 8, 87-100 Toruń, Poland
3 Astronomical Observatory, Ural State University, Lenin Street 51, Ekaterinburg 620083, Russia
Accepted: 17 December 2004
The 1612 MHz hydroxyl maser in circumstellar envelopes has long been thought to be pumped by 34.6 μm photons. Only recently, the Infrared Space Observatory has made possible spectroscopic observations which enable the direct confirmation of this pumping mechanism in a few cases. To look for the presence of this pumping line, we have searched the Infrared Space Observatory Data Archive and found 178 spectra with data around 34.6 μm for 87 galactic 1612 MHz masers. The analysis performed showed that the noise level and the spectral resolution of the spectra are the most important factors affecting the detection of the 34.6 μm absorption line. Only 5 objects from the sample (3 red supergiants and 2 galactic center sources) are found to show clear 34.6 μm absorption (all of them already known) while two additional objects only tentatively show this line. The 3 supergiants show similar pump rates and their masers might be purely radiatively pumped. The pump rates of OH masers in late type stars are found to be about 0.05, only 1/5 of the theoretical value of 0.25 derived by Elitzur (1992). We have also found 16 maser sources which, according to the analysis assuming Elitzur's pump rate, should show the 34.6 μm absorption line but do not. These non-detections can be tentatively explained by far-infrared photon pumping, clumpy nature of the OH masing region or a limb-filling emission effect in the OH shell.
Key words: masers / stars: AGB and post AGB / stars: circumstellar matter / radio lines: stars
© ESO, 2005
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