First Detection of an H2CO 6 cm Maser Flare: A Burst in IRAS 18566+0408


We report the discovery of a short-duration (less than 3 months) outburst of the H2CO 6 cm maser in IRAS 18566+0408 (G37.55+0.20). During the flare, the peak flux density of the maser increased by a factor of 4; after less than a month, it decayed to the preflare value. This is the first detection of a short, burstlike variability of an H2CO 6 cm maser. The maser shows an asymmetric line profile that is consistent with the superposition of two Gaussian components. We did not detect a change in the velocity or the line width of the Gaussian components during the flare. If the two Gaussian components trace two separate maser regions, then very likely an event outside the maser gas triggered simultaneous flares at two different locations

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