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Published October 1, 2015 | Published + Submitted
Journal Article Open

The Brightest Young Star Clusters in NGC 5253


The nearby dwarf starburst galaxy NGC 5253 hosts a number of young, massive star clusters, the two youngest of which are centrally concentrated and surrounded by thermal radio emission (the "radio nebula"). To investigate the role of these clusters in the starburst energetics, we combine new and archival Hubble Space Telescope images of NGC 5253 with wavelength coverage from 1500 Å to 1.9 μm in 13 filters. These include Hα, Pβ, and Pα, and the imaging from the Hubble Treasury Program LEGUS (Legacy Extragalactic UV Survey). The extraordinarily well-sampled spectral energy distributions enable modeling with unprecedented accuracy the ages, masses, and extinctions of the nine optically brightest clusters (M_V < −8.8) and the two young radio nebula clusters. The clusters have ages ~1–15 Myr and masses ~1 × 10^4–2.5 × 10^5 M_⊙. The clusters' spatial location and ages indicate that star formation has become more concentrated toward the radio nebula over the last ~15 Myr. The most massive cluster is in the radio nebula; with a mass ~2.5 × 10^5 M_⊙ and an age ~1 Myr, it is 2–4 times less massive and younger than previously estimated. It is within a dust cloud with A_V ~ 50 mag, and shows a clear near-IR excess, likely from hot dust. The second radio nebula cluster is also ~1 Myr old, confirming the extreme youth of the starburst region. These two clusters account for about half of the ionizing photon rate in the radio nebula, and will eventually supply about 2/3 of the mechanical energy in present-day shocks. Additional sources are required to supply the remaining ionizing radiation, and may include very massive stars.

Additional Information

© 2015 American Astronomical Society. Received 2015 June 8; accepted 2015 August 17; published 2015 September 24. Based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, obtained at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5-26555. These observations are associated with program # 13364. Support for program # 13364 was provided by NASA through a grant from the Space Telescope Science Institute. Based also on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and obtained from the Hubble Legacy Archive, which is a collaboration between the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI/NASA), the Space Telescope European Coordinating Facility (ST-ECF/ESA) and the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre (CADC/NRC/CSA). This research has made use of the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED) which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Part of this work was conducted while D.C. was a Raymond and Beverley Sackler Distinguished Visitor at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge (UK), and an Overseas Fellow at the Churchill College (Cambridge, UK). D.C. acknowledges the kind hospitality of both the Institute and the College. A.S.E. was supported by the Taiwan, R.O.C. Ministry of Science and Technology grant MoST 102-2119-M-001-MY3. M.F. acknowledges support by the Science and Technology Facilities Council [grant number ST/L00075X/1]. D.A.G. kindly acknowledges financial support by the German Research Foundation (DFG) through grant GO 1659/3-2. E.Z. acknowledges research funding from the Swedish Research Council (project 2011-5349).

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Submitted - 1508.04476v1.pdf

Published - Calzetti_2015p75.pdf


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August 22, 2023
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