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17 October 1997 Stellar population of NGC 3603 from adaptive optics observations
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Abstract
Among the most interesting open problems in the theory of star formation is the question whether regions of high-mass star formation also form large numbers of low-mass stars. To answer this question reliably, it is necessary to resolve the crowded central clusters of some of these regions. NGC 3603 is the most massive optically visible giant HII region in our Galaxy. It is located at a distance of 7.2 kpc in the Carina spiral arm. We have observed its central cluster with the SHARP II camera attached to the ADONIS adaptive optics system at the 3.6m telescope on La Silla, Chile. From the photometry of more than 1200 stars, we have constructed near-infrared color-color and color-magnitude diagrams. We find a well-defined main sequence above 4 solar masses; the stars with lower masses have not yet reached the main sequence. By comparison with pre-main-sequence evolutionary models we estimate the age for these lower mass stars to be less than 1 million years. This estimate is supported by the shape of the luminosity function as well. Interpreting the luminosity function in terms of stellar masses, we can construct the initial mass function in NGC 3603 down to about 1 solar mass: We do not find a lower mass cutoff down to this value, which shows that there is indeed prodigious formation of low-mass stars in NGC 3603. The initial mass function — referring to logarithmic mass intervals — follows a power law of index ? = 0.74... 1.32.
© (1997) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Frank Eisenhauer, Andreas Quirrenbach, and Hans Zinnecker "Stellar population of NGC 3603 from adaptive optics observations", Proc. SPIE 3126, Adaptive Optics and Applications, (17 October 1997); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.279058
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