A young super star cluster in the nuclear region of NGC 253

Katherine A. Kornei, Nate McCrady

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We present observations of a massive star cluster near the nuclear region of the nearby starburst galaxy NGC 253. The peak of near-infrared (IR) emission, which is spatially separated by 4″ from the kinematic center of the galaxy, is coincident with a super star cluster whose properties we examine with low-resolution (R 1200) infrared Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory spectroscopy and optical/near-IR Hubble Space Telescope imaging. Extinction, measured from Fe II lines, is estimated at AV = 17.7 2.6. The age of the cluster is estimated at 5.7 Myr, based on Brγ equivalent width for an instantaneous burst using Starburst99 modeling. However, a complex star formation history is inferred from the presence of both recombination emission and photospheric CO absorption. The ionizing photon flux has a lower limit of 7.3 2.5 × 1053 s-1, corrected for extinction. Assuming a Kroupa initial mass function, we estimate a cluster mass of 1.4 +0.4 -0.5 × 107 M. We observe a strong Wolf-Rayet signature at 2.06 μm and report a weak feature at 2.19 μm which may be due to a massive stellar population, consistent with the derived mass and age of this cluster.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1180-1186
Number of pages7
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Galaxies: individual (NGC 253)
  • Galaxies: star clusters


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