THE O- and B-TYPE STELLAR POPULATION in W3: Beyond the HIGH-DENSITY LAYER

Megan M. Kiminki, Jinyoung Serena Kim, Micaela B. Bagley, William H. Sherry, George H. Rieke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present the first results from our survey of the star-forming complex W3, combining VRI photometry with multiobject spectroscopy to identify and characterize the high-mass stellar population across the region. With 79 new spectral classifications, we bring the total number of spectroscopically confirmed O- and B-type stars in W3 to 105. We find that the high-mass slope of the mass function in W3 is consistent with a Salpeter IMF, and that the extinction toward the region is best characterized by an RV of approximately 3.6. B-type stars are found to be more widely dispersed across the W3 giant molecular cloud (GMC) than previously realized: they are not confined to the high-density layer (HDL) created by the expansion of the neighboring W4 H ii region into the GMC. This broader B-type population suggests that star formation in W3 began spontaneously up to 8-10 Myr ago, although at a lower level than the more recent star formation episodes in the HDL. In addition, we describe a method of optimizing sky subtraction for fiber spectra in regions of strong and spatially variable nebular emission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number42
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume813
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

Keywords

  • dust, extinction
  • open clusters and associations: individual (Westerhout 3)
  • stars: early-type
  • stars: formation
  • stars: luminosity function, mass function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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