OH (1720 MHz) Masers: A multiwavelength study of the interaction between the W51C supernova remnant and the W51B star forming region

C. L. Brogan, W. M. Goss, T. R. Hunter, A. M.S. Richards, C. J. Chandler, J. S. Lazendic, B. C. Koo, I. M. Hoffman, M. J. Claussen

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29 Citations (Scopus)


We present a comprehensive view of the W51B H II region complex and the W51C supernova remnant (SNR) using new radio observations from the VLA, VLBA, MERLIN, JCMT, and CSO along with archival data from Spitzer, ROSAT, ASCA, and Chandra. Our VLA data include the first λ = 400 cm (74 MHz) continuum image of W51 at high resolution (88″). The 400 cm image shows non-thermal emission surrounding the G49.2-0.3 H II region, and a compact source of non-thermal emission (W51B-NT) coincident with the previously-identified OH (1720 MHz) maser spots, non-thermal 21 and 90 cm emission, and a hard X-ray source. W51B-NT falls within the region of high likelihood for the position of TeV γ-ray emission. Using the VLBA, three OH (1720 MHz) maser spots are detected in the vicinity of W51B-NT with sizes of 60-300 AU and Zeeman effect magnetic field strengths of 1.5-2.2 mG. The multiwavelength data demonstrate that the northern end of the W51B H II region complex has been partly enveloped by the advancing W51C SNR and this interaction explains the presence of W51B-NT and the OH masers. This interaction also appears in the thermal molecular gas which partially encircles W51B-NT and exhibits narrow pre-shock (Δv ∼ 5 km s-1) and broad post-shock (Δv ∼ 20 km s-1) velocity components. RADEX radiative transfer modeling of these two components yield physical conditions consistent with the passage of a non-dissociative C-type shock. Confirmation of the W51B/W51C interaction provides additional evidence in favor of this region being one of the best candidates for hadronic particle acceleration known thus far.

Original languageEnglish
Article number91
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Hii regions
  • ISM: individual objects (W51B, W51C)
  • ISM: molecules
  • ISM: supernova remnants
  • masers


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