Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2011

Abstract

In order to investigate the relationship between the local environment and the properties of natal star clusters, we obtained radio observations of 25 star-forming galaxies within 20 Mpc using the Very Large Array and the Australia Telescope Compact Array. Natal star-forming regions can be identified by their characteristic thermal radio emission, which is manifest in their spectral index at centimeter wavelengths. The host galaxies in our sample were selected based upon their likelihood of harboring young star formation. In star-forming regions, the ionizing flux of massive embedded stars powers the dominant thermal free-free emission of those sources, resulting in a spectral index of {alpha} {approx}> -0.2 (where S{sub {nu}} {proportional_to} {nu}{sup {alpha}}), which we compute. With the current sensitivity, we find that of the 25 galaxies in this sample only 5 have radio sources with spectral indices that are only consistent with a thermal origin, 4 have radio sources that are only consistent with a non-thermal origin, 6 have radio sources whose nature is ambiguous due to uncertainties in the spectral index, and 16 have no detected radio sources. For those sources that appear to be dominated by thermal emission, we infer the ionizing flux of the star clusters andmore » the number of equivalent O7.5 V stars that are required to produce the observed radio flux densities. The most radio-luminous clusters that we detect have an equivalent of {approx}7 x 10{sup 3} O7.5 V stars, and the smallest only have an equivalent of {approx}10{sup 2} O7.5 V stars; thus these star-forming regions span the range of large OB associations to moderate 'super star clusters'. With the current detection limits, we also place upper limits on the masses of clusters that could have recently formed; for a number of galaxies we can conclusively rule out the presence of natal clusters significantly more massive than the Galactic star-forming region W49A ({approx}5 x 10{sup 4} M{sub sun}). The dearth of current massive cluster formation in these galaxies suggests that either their current star formation intensities have fallen to near or below that of the Milky Way and/or the evolutionary state that gives rise to thermal radio emission is short-lived.« less

Source Citation

Aversa, Alan G., Johnson, Kelsey E., Brogan, Crystal L., Goss, W. M., & Pisano, D. J. (2011). Very Large Array And Atca Search For Natal Star Clusters In Nearby Star-Forming Galaxies. The Astronomical Journal, 141(4), 125. http://doi.org/10.1088/0004-6256/141/4/125

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