Simulated Galactic methanol maser distribution to constrain Milky Way parameters
1 Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, PO Box 9513, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
2 Joint Institute for VLBI ERIC (JIVE), Postbus 2, 7990 AA Dwingeloo, The Netherlands
3 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
4 CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, Australia Telescope National Facility, PO Box 76, Epping, NSW 1710, Australia
5 SKA Organisation, Jodrell Bank Observatory, Lower Withington, Macclesfield, SK11 9DL, UK
Received: 22 February 2017
Accepted: 7 June 2017
Context. Using trigonometric parallaxes and proper motions of masers associated with massive young stars, the Bar and Spiral Structure Legacy (BeSSeL) survey has reported the most accurate values of the Galactic parameters so far. The determination of these parameters with high accuracy has a widespread impact on Galactic and extragalactic measurements.
Aims. This research is aimed at establishing the confidence with which such parameters can be determined. This is relevant for the data published in the context of the BeSSeL survey collaboration, but also for future observations, in particular from the southern hemisphere. In addition, some astrophysical properties of the masers can be constrained, notably the luminosity function.
Methods. We have simulated the population of maser-bearing young stars associated with Galactic spiral structure, generating several samples and comparing them with the observed samples used in the BeSSeL survey. Consequently, we checked the determination of Galactic parameters for observational biases introduced by the sample selection.
Results. Galactic parameters obtained by the BeSSeL survey do not seem to be biased by the sample selection used. In fact, the published error estimates appear to be conservative for most of the parameters. We show that future BeSSeL data and future observations with southern arrays will improve the Galactic parameters estimates and smoothly reduce their mutual correlation. Moreover, by modeling future parallax data with larger distance values and, thus, greater relative uncertainties for a larger numbers of sources, we found that parallax-distance biasing is an important issue. Hence, using fractional parallax uncertainty in the weighting of the motion data is imperative. Finally, the luminosity function for 6.7 GHz methanol masers was determined, allowing us to estimate the number of Galactic methanol masers.
Key words: masers / astrometry / Galaxy: fundamental parameters / Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics / Galaxy: structure
© ESO, 2017