Class I methanol masers in low-mass star-forming regions
Journal article, 2013
Results of observations of Class I methanol masers in regions of low-mass star formation (MMIL) are summarized and analyzed. Four masers were detected at 44, 84, and 95 GHz towards "chemically active" bipolar outflows in the low-mass star-forming regions NGC1333 I4A, NGC 1333 I2A, HH 25, and L1157. Another maser was found at 36 GHz towards a similar outflow in NGC 2023. Thus, all the detected MMILs are associated with chemically active outflows. The brightness temperatures of the strongest 44-GHz maser spots in NGC 1333 I4A, HH 25, and L1157 exceed 2000 K, whereas the brightness temperature in NGC 1333 I2A is only 176 K, although a rotational-diagram analysis shows that this last source is also amaser. The flux densities of the newly detectedmasers are no higher than 18 Jy, and are much lower than those of strong masers in regions of high-mass star formation (MMIH). The MMIL luminosities match the maser luminosity-protostar luminosity relation established earlier for MMIHs. No MMIL variability was detected in 2004-2011. The radial velocities of the newly detected masers are close to the systemic velocities of the associated regions, except for NGC 2023, where the maser radial velocity is lower than the systemic velocity by approximately 3.5 km/s. Thus, the main MMILproperties are similar to those of MMIHs. MMILs are likely to be an extension of the MMIH population toward lower luminosities of both the masers and the associated young stellar objects. The results of VLA observations of MMILs can be explained using a turbulent-cloud model, which predicts that compact maser spots can arise in extended sources because the coherence lengths along some directions randomly appear to be longer than the mean coherence length in a turbulent velocity field. However, one must assume that the column density of methanol towardM1, the strongest maser in L1157, is appreciably higher than the mean column density of the clump B0a where the maser arises. The shape of the maser lines in L1157, forming double profiles with a red asymmetry, may indicate that the masers arise in collapsing clumps. However, although this model may be correct for L1157, it is specific to this source, since none of the other masers observed exhibited a double profile.