Mid-infrared observations of methanol maser sites and ultracompact H II regions: Signposts of high-mass star formation

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N-band (10.5 μm) and/or Q-band (20.0 μm) images taken with MANIAC on the ESO/MPI 2.2-m telescope are presented for 31 methanol maser sites and 19 ultracompact (UC) H ii regions. Most of the maser sites and UC H ii regions are coincident with mid-infrared (MIR) sources to within the positional uncertainties of ∼ 3 arcsec, consistent with the maser emission being powered by the MIR source. The IRAS source positions, however, do not always coincide with the MIR sources. Based on an average infrared spectral energy distribution, we deduce that the MIR objects are luminous enough that they should also produce a strong ionizing radiation. Some sources are consistent with stars of later spectral type, but not all can be. A number of maser sites show no detectable radio continuum emission associated with MIR emission, despite a powering source luminous enough potentially to produce an UC H ii region. Since no signs of an UC H ii region are detected here, these maser sites might be produced during a very early stage of stellar evolution. We present objects that show evidence of outflow activity stemming from a maser site, exhibiting CO and/or CS line profiles indicative of outflows coincident with the MIR source. These cases are promising examples of maser sites signposting the earliest stages of high-mass star formation.
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Walsh, Andrew
Bertoldi, F
Burton, Michael
Nikola, Thomas
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Journal Article
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UNSW Faculty