EVN observations of 6.7 GHz methanol maser polarization in massive star-forming regions
Journal article, 2012
Context. The role of magnetic fields in the formation of high-mass stars is still under debate, and recent measurements of their orientation and strength by using polarized maser emissions are contributing new insights. Masers polarization, in particular of the 6.7-GHz methanol masers, are one of the best probes of the magnetic field morphologies around massive protostars.
Aims. Determining the magnetic field morphology around an increasing number of massive protostars at milliarcsecond resolution by observing 6.7-GHz methanol masers is crucial to better understand the role of magnetic fields in massive star formation.
Methods. The First EVN Group consists of 4 massive star-forming complexes: W51, W48, IRAS 18556+0138, and W3(OH). These contain well-studied H II regions from some of which molecular bipolar outflows were also detected (W51-e2, G35.20-0.74N). Nine of the European VLBI Network (EVN) antennas were used to measure the linear polarization and Zeeman-splitting of the 6.7-GHz methanol masers in the star-forming regions of the First EVN Group.
Results. We detected a total of 154 CH3OH masers, one third of these towards W3(OH). Fractional linear polarization (1.2-11.5%) was detected towards 55 CH3OH masers. The linear polarization vectors are well-ordered in all the massive star-forming regions. We measured significant Zeeman-splitting in 3 massive star-forming regions (W51, W48, and W3(OH)) revealing a range of separations -3.5 ms(-1) < Delta V-z < 3.8 ms(-1) with the smallest |Delta V-z| = 0.4 ms(-1). We were also able to compare our magnetic field results with those obtained from submillimeter wavelength dust observation in W51 and show that the magnetic field at low and high resolutions are in perfect agreement.