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Journal Articles The Astrophysical Journal Year : 2014

A Rare Encounter with Very Massive Stars in NGC 3125-A1

Claus Leitherer
  • Function : Author
Rupali Chandar


Super star cluster A1 in the nearby starburst galaxy NGC 3125 is characterized by broad He II λ1640 emission (FWHM ~ 1200 km s-1) of unprecedented strength (equivalent width, EW = 7.1 ± 0.4 Å). Previous attempts to characterize the massive star content in NGC 3125-A1 were hampered by the low resolution of the UV spectrum and the lack of co-spatial panchromatic data. We obtained far-UV to near-IR spectroscopy of the two principal emitting regions in the galaxy with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph on board the Hubble Space Telescope. We use these data to study three clusters in the galaxy, A1, B1, and B2. We derive cluster ages of 3-4 Myr, intrinsic reddenings of E(B - V) = 0.13, 0.15, and 0.13, and cluster masses of 1.7 × 105, 1.4 × 105, and 1.1 × 105 M , respectively. A1 and B2 show O V λ1371 absorption from massive stars, which is rarely seen in star-forming galaxies, and have Wolf-Rayet (WR) to O star ratios of N(WN5-6)/N(O) = 0.23 and 0.10, respectively. The high N(WN5-6)/N(O) ratio of A1 cannot be reproduced by models that use a normal initial mass function (IMF) and generic WR star line luminosities. We rule out that the extraordinary He II λ1640 emission and O V λ1371 absorption of A1 are due to an extremely flat upper IMF exponent, and suggest that they originate in the winds of very massive (>120 M ) stars. In order to reproduce the properties of peculiar clusters such as A1, the present grid of stellar evolution tracks implemented in Starburst99 needs to be extended to masses >120 M .

Dates and versions

insu-03645718 , version 1 (19-04-2022)



Aida Wofford, Claus Leitherer, Rupali Chandar, Jean-Claude Bouret. A Rare Encounter with Very Massive Stars in NGC 3125-A1. The Astrophysical Journal, 2014, 781, ⟨10.1088/0004-637X/781/2/122⟩. ⟨insu-03645718⟩
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