65 research outputs found

    Understanding Accretion Outbursts in Massive Protostars through Maser Imaging

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    The bright maser emission produced by several molecular species at centimeter to long millimeter wavelengths provides an essential tool for understanding the process of massive star formation. Unimpeded by the high dust optical depths that affect shorter wavelength observations, the high brightness temperature of these emission lines offers a way to resolve accretion and outflow motions down to scales below \sim1 au in deeply embedded Galactic star-forming regions at kiloparsec distances. The recent identification of extraordinary accretion outbursts in two high-mass protostars, both of which were heralded by maser flares, has rapidly impacted the traditional view of massive protostellar evolution, leading to new hydrodynamic simulations that can produce such episodic outbursts. In order to understand how these massive protostars evolve in response to such events, larger, more sensitive ground-based centimeter wavelength interferometers are needed that can simultaneously image multiple maser species in the molecular gas along with faint continuum from the central ionized gas. Fiducial observations of a large sample of massive protostars will be essential in order to pinpoint the progenitors of future accretion outbursts, and to quantify the outburst-induced changes in their protostellar photospheres and outflow and accretion structures. Knowledge gained from these studies will have broader impact on the general topic of accretion onto massive objects.Comment: Science white paper submitted to the Astro2020 Decadal Survey. arXiv admin note: substantial text overlap with arXiv:1806.0698

    First Image of the Sun with MeerKAT Solar Observations: Opening a New Frontier in Solar Physics

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    Solar radio emissions provide several unique diagnostics to estimate different physical parameters of the solar corona, which are otherwise simply inaccessible. However, imaging the highly dynamic solar coronal emissions spanning a large range of angular scales at radio wavelengths is extremely challenging. At GHz frequencies, the MeerKAT radio telescope is possibly globally the best-suited instrument at the present time and can provide high-fidelity spectroscopic snapshot solar images. Here, we present the first images of the Sun made using the observations with the MeerKAT at L-band (856 -- 1711 MHz). This work demonstrates the high fidelity of the MeerKAT solar images through a comparison with simulated radio images at the MeerKAT frequencies. The observed images show extremely good mophological similarities with the simulated images. A detailed comparison between the simulated radio map and observed MeerKAT radio images demonstrates that there is significant missing flux density in MeerKAT images at the higher frequencies of the observing band, though it can potentially be estimated and corrected for. We believe once solar observations with the MeerKAT are commissioned, they will not only enable a host of novel studies but also open the door to a large unexplored phase space with significant discovery potential.Comment: Preparing for submission, 14 pages, 9 figure