Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 547A, 15-15 (2012/11-1)
Red supergiants around the obscured open cluster Stephenson 2.
NEGUERUELA I., MARCO A., GONZALEZ-FERNANDEZ C., JIMENEZ-ESTEBAN F., CLARK J.S., GARCIA M. and SOLANO E.
Abstract (from CDS):
Several clusters of red supergiants have been discovered in a small region of the Milky Way close to the base of the Scutum-Crux Arm and the tip of the Long Bar. Population synthesis models indicate that they must be very massive to harbour so many supergiants. Amongst these clusters, Stephenson 2, with a core grouping of 26 red supergiants, is a strong candidate to be the most massive young cluster in the Galaxy. Stephenson 2 is located close to a region where a strong over-density of red supergiants had been found. We explore the actual cluster size and its possible connection to this over-density. Taking advantage of Virtual Observatory tools, we have performed a cross-match between the DENIS, USNO-B1 and 2MASS catalogues to identify candidate obscured luminous red stars around Stephenson 2, and in a control nearby region. More than 600 infrared bright stars fulfill our colour criteria, with the vast majority having a counterpart in the I band and >400 being sufficiently bright in I to allow observation with a 4-m class telescope. We observed a subsample of ∼250 stars, using the multi-object, wide-field, fibre spectrograph AF2 on the WHT telescope in La Palma, obtaining intermediate-resolution spectroscopy in the 7500-9000Å range. We derived spectral types and luminosity classes for all these objects and measured their radial velocities. Our targets turned out to be G and K supergiants, late (≥M4) M giants, and M-type bright giants (luminosity class II) and supergiants. We found ∼35 red supergiants with radial velocities similar to Stephenson 2 members, spread over the two areas surveyed. In addition, we found ∼40 red supergiants with radial velocities incompatible in principle with a physical association. Our results show that Stephenson 2 is not an isolated cluster, but part of a huge structure likely containing hundreds of red supergiants, with radial velocities compatible with the terminal velocity at this Galactic longitude (and a distance ∼6 kpc). In addition, we found evidence of several populations of massive stars at different distances along this line of sight.
stars: evolution - supergiants - open clusters and associations: individual: Stephenson 2 - Galaxy: structure - observatory tools virtual
VizieR on-line data:
<Available at CDS (J/A+A/547/A15): table2.dat table3.dat>
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