Volume 644, December 2020
|Number of page(s)||20|
|Section||Interstellar and circumstellar matter|
|Published online||10 December 2020|
Polarisation properties of methanol masers
Department of Space, Earth and Environment, Chalmers University of Technology, Onsala Space Observatory,
2 INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Cagliari, Via della Scienza 5, 09047 Selargius, Italy
Accepted: 6 October 2020
Context. Astronomical masers have been effective tools in the study of magnetic fields for years. Observations of the linear and circular polarisation of different maser species allow for the determination of magnetic field properties, such as morphology and strength. In particular, methanol can be used to probe different parts of protostars, such as accretion discs and outflows, since it produces one of the strongest and the most commonly observed masers in massive star-forming regions.
Aims. We investigate the polarisation properties of selected methanol maser transitions in light of newly calculated methanol Landé g-factors and in consideration of hyperfine components. We compare our results with previous observations and evaluate the effect of preferred hyperfine pumping and non-Zeeman effects.
Methods. We ran simulations using the radiative transfer code, CHAMP, for different magnetic field values, hyperfine components, and pumping efficiencies.
Results. We find a dependence between the linear polarisation fraction and the magnetic field strength as well as the hyperfine transitions. The circular polarisation fraction also shows a dependence on the hyperfine transitions. Preferred hyperfine pumping can explain some high levels of linear and circular polarisation and some of the peculiar features seen in the S-shape of observed V-profiles. By comparing a number of methanol maser observations taken from the literature with our simulations, we find that the observed methanol masers are not significantly affected by non-Zeeman effects related to the competition between stimulated emission rates and Zeeman rates, such as the rotation of the symmetry axis. We also consider the relevance of other non-Zeeman effects that are likely to be at work for modest saturation levels, such as the effect of magnetic field changes along the maser path and anisotropic resonant scattering.
Conclusions. Our models show that for methanol maser emission, both the linear and circular polarisation percentages depend on which hyperfine transition is masing and the degree to which it is being pumped. Since non-Zeeman effects become more relevant at high values of brightness temperatures, it is important to obtain good estimates of these quantities and the maser beaming angles. Better constraints on the brightness temperature will help improve our understanding of the extent to which non-Zeeman effects contribute to the observed polarisation percentages. In order to detect separate hyperfine components, an intrinsic thermal line width that is significantly smaller than the hyperfine separation is required.
Key words: masers / magnetic fields / stars: formation / stars: magnetic field / polarization
© ESO 2020
Current usage metrics show cumulative count of Article Views (full-text article views including HTML views, PDF and ePub downloads, according to the available data) and Abstracts Views on Vision4Press platform.
Data correspond to usage on the plateform after 2015. The current usage metrics is available 48-96 hours after online publication and is updated daily on week days.
Initial download of the metrics may take a while.