MAGMO: coherent magnetic fields in the star-forming regions of the Carina-Sagittarius spiral arm tangent




We present the pilot results of the ‘MAGMO’ project, targeted observations of ground-state hydroxyl masers towards sites of 6.7-GHz methanol maser emission in the Carina-Sagittarius spiral arm tangent, Galactic longitudes 280° to 295°. The ‘MAGMO’ project aims to determine if Galactic magnetic fields can be traced with Zeeman splitting of masers associated with star formation. Pilot observations of 23 sites of methanol maser emission were made, with the detection of ground-state hydroxyl masers towards 11 of these and six additional offset sites. Of these 17 sites, nine are new detections of sites of 1665-MHz maser emission, three of them accompanied by 1667-MHz emission. More than 70 per cent of the maser features have significant circular polarization, whilst only ∼10 per cent have significant linear polarization (although some features with up to 100 per cent linear polarization are found). We find 11 Zeeman pairs across six sites of high-mass star formation with implied magnetic field strengths between –1.5 and +3.8 mG and a median field strength of +1.6 mG. Our measurements of Zeeman splitting imply that a coherent field orientation is experienced by the maser sites across a distance of 5.3 ± 2.0 kpc within the Carina-Sagittarius spiral arm tangent.