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On the massive stellar population of the super star cluster Westerlund 1

Clark, J.S.; Negueruela, I.; Crowther, P.A. and Goodwin, S.P. (2005). On the massive stellar population of the super star cluster Westerlund 1. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 434(3) pp. 949–969.

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We present new spectroscopic and photometric observations of the young Galactic open cluster Westerlund 1 (Wd 1) that reveal a unique population of massive evolved stars. We identify similar to 200 cluster members and present spectroscopic classifications for similar to 25% of these. We find that all stars so classified are unambiguously post-Main Sequence objects, consistent with an apparent lack of an identifiable Main Sequence in our photometric data to V similar to 20. We are able to identify rich populations of Wolf Rayet stars, OB supergiants and short lived transitional objects. Of these, the latter group consists of both hot (Luminous Blue Variable and extreme B supergiant) and cool (Yellow Hypergiant and Red Supergiant) objects - we find that half the known Galactic population of YHGs resides within Wd 1. We obtain a mean V - M-V similar to 25 mag from the cluster Yellow Hypergiants, implying a Main Sequence turnoff at or below M-V = -5 (O7 V or later). Based solely on the masses inferred for the 53 spectroscopically classified stars, we determine an absolute minimum mass of similar to 1.5 x 10(3) M-circle dot for Wd 1. However, considering the complete photometrically and spectroscopically selected cluster population and adopting a Kroupa IMF we infer a likely mass for Wd 1 of similar to 10(5) M-circle dot, noting that inevitable source confusion and incompleteness are likely to render this an underestimate. As such, Wd 1 is the most massive compact young cluster yet identified in the Local Group, with a mass exceeding that of Galactic Centre clusters such as the Arches and Quintuplet. Indeed, the luminosity, inferred mass and compact nature of Wd 1 are comparable with those of Super Star Clusters - previously identified only in external galaxies - and is consistent with expectations for a Globular Cluster progenitor.

Item Type: Journal Article
ISSN: 1432-0746
Extra Information: Article published by EDP Sciences and available at or
Keywords: stars; evolution; open clusters and associations; Westerlund 1; galaxies; starburst
Academic Unit/Department: Science > Physical Sciences
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR)
Item ID: 6321
Depositing User: Astrid Peterkin
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2007
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2012 00:49
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