Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 430, 481-489 (2005/2-1)
Massive star formation in the W 49 giant molecular cloud: Implications for the formation of massive star clusters.
HOMEIER N.L. and ALVES J.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present results from JHKs imaging of the densest region of the W49 molecular cloud. In a recent paper (Alves & Homeier, 2003ApJ...589L..45A), we reported the detection of (previously unknown) massive stellar clusters in the well-known giant radio HII region W49A, and here we continue our analysis. We use the extensive line-of-sight extinction to isolate a population of objects associated with W49A. We constrain the slope of the stellar luminosity function by constructing an extinction-limited luminosity function, and use this to obtain a mass function. We find no evidence for a top-heavy MF, and the slope of the derived mass function is -1.6±0.3. We identify candidate massive stars from our color-magnitude diagram, and we use these to estimate the current total stellar mass of 5-7x104M☉ in the region of the W49 molecular cloud covered by our survey. Candidate ionizing stars for several ultra-compact HII regions are detected, with many having multipe candidate sources. On the global molecular cloud scale in W49, massive star formation apparently did not proceed in a single concentrated burst, but in small groups, or subclusters. This may be an essential physical description for star formation in what will later be termed a ``massive star cluster''.
ISM: HII regions - ISM: bubbles - Galaxy: open clusters and associations: individual: W49A - stars: formation - Galaxy: disk - infrared: ISM