A long-period Cepheid variable in the starburst cluster VdBH222

Clark, J. S.; Negueruela, I.; Lohr, M. E.; Dorda, R.; González-Fernández, C.; Lewis, F. and Roche, P. (2015). A long-period Cepheid variable in the starburst cluster VdBH222. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 584, article no. L12.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/201527360


Galactic starburst clusters play a twin role in astrophysics, serving as laboratories for the study of stellar physics and also delineating the structure and recent star formation history of the Milky Way. In order to exploit these opportunities we have undertaken a multi-epoch spectroscopic survey of the red supergiant dominated young massive clusters thought to be present at both near and far ends of the Galactic Bar. Significant spectroscopic variability suggestive of radial pulsations was found for the yellow supergiant VdBH 222 #505. Follow-up photometric investigations revealed modulation with a period of ~23.325d; both timescale and pulsational profile are consistent with a Cepheid classification. As a consequence #505 may be recognised as one of the longest period Galactic cluster Cepheids identified to date and hence of considerable use in constraining the bright end of the period/luminosity relation at solar metallicities. In conjunction with extant photometry we infer a distance of ~6kpc for VdBH222 and an age of ~20Myr. This results in a moderate reduction in both integrated cluster mass (~2x10^4Msun) and the initial stellar masses of the evolved cluster members (~10Msun). As such, VdBH222 becomes an excellent test-bed for studying the properties of some of the lowest mass stars observed to undergo type-II supernovae. Moreover, the distance is in tension with a location of VdBH 222 at the far end of the Galactic Bar. Instead a birthsite in the near 3kpc arm is suggested; providing compelling evidence of extensive recent star formation in a region of the inner Milky Way which has hitherto been thought to be devoid of such activity.

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