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Spectra of 6668-MHz methanol masers

The emission from the methanol masers in the molecular around this star-forming region shows a double-peaked profile. The peak seen above on the left has been found to vary rapidly, undergoing flares every few months. The growth of the peak during one such flare is shown. The flares may be caused by blobs of gas ionized by the central star shooting behind the masing region, although they could also be caused by disturbances travelling through the masing region itself.

Monitoring of a large set of methanol masers by Sharmila Goedhart revealed that several show regular variations, unlike the irregular variations in the example shown above. The period of the variations in different sources ranged from 30 days to hundreds of days. This was unexpected behaviour for masers in a star-forming region, and is the subject of ongoing research.