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Astron. Astrophys. 358, L17-L20 (2000)

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Letter to the Editor

Discovery of a very luminous megamaser during a radio flare in the Seyfert 2 galaxy Mrk 348

H. Falcke 1, Chr. Henkel 1, A. B. Peck 1, Y. Hagiwara 1, M. Almudena Prieto 2 and J.F. Gallimore 3

1 Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
2 European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2, 85740 Garching, Germany
3 National Radio Astronomy Observatory, 520 Edgemont Rd., Charlottesville, VA 22903-2475, USA

Received 18 April 2000 / Accepted 26 April 2000


We report the detection of a new H2O megamaser in the Seyfert 2 galaxy Mrk 348 with the MPIfR 100 m telescope in Effelsberg. With an apparent isotropic luminosity of [FORMULA] the maser is the third most luminous maser discovered so far. The detected line is unusually broad ([FORMULA] km s-1), is redshifted by [FORMULA] km s-1 from the systemic velocity, and is asymmetric with a pronounced blue wing. While evidence for obscuring material towards the nucleus of this galaxy was found earlier, this detection is the first direct observation of molecular material in the vicinity of the AGN. We also searched for absorption from ammonia (NH3) and cyclopropenylidene (C3H2) against the bright radio nucleus. The H2O line was only marginally detected in archival data indicating that the maser flared recently in conjunction with a huge radio continuum flare. Continuum and line flux density increased by a factor of three, suggesting an unsaturated maser. The radio continuum flare has made Mrk 348 the most radio luminous megamaser galaxy known. It is pointed out that megamaser galaxies contain a rather large fraction of galaxies with prominent radio cores and it is speculated that the flare in the maser emission in Mrk 348 is related to the flare in the nuclear jet.

Key words: masers – galaxies: active – galaxies: individual: Mrk 348 – galaxies: jets – galaxies: Seyfert – radio lines: galaxies

Send offprint requests to: hfalcke@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: June 26, 2000