Research ArticlePHYSICAL SCIENCES

Explaining recurring maser flares in the ISM through large-scale entangled quantum mechanical states

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Science Advances  24 Mar 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 3, e1601858
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601858

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Abstract

We apply Dicke’s theory of superradiance (introduced in 1954) to the 6.7-GHz methanol and 22-GHz water spectral lines, often detected in molecular clouds as signposts for the early stages of the star formation process. We suggest that superradiance, characterized by burst-like features taking place over a wide range of time scales, may provide a natural explanation for the recent observations of periodic and seemingly alternating methanol and water maser flares in G107.298+5.639. Although these observations would be very difficult to explain within the context of maser theory, we show that these flares may result from simultaneously initiated 6.7-GHz methanol and 22-GHz water superradiant bursts operating on different time scales, thus providing a natural mechanism for their observed durations and time ordering. The evidence of superradiance in this source further suggests the existence of entangled quantum mechanical states, involving a very large number of molecules, over distances of up to a few kilometers in the interstellar medium.

Keywords
  • Superradiance
  • Astronomical masers
  • Entangled quantum mechanical states

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